The new year is just around the corner. It’s your opportunity to capitalize on an extra day or two off and get your finances in order. The good news is, getting your finances under control doesn’t have to be drudgery and even if things are bleak there is always hope. Here are 5 Fifteen Minute Missions to Organize Your Finances!
Mission #1: Put all of your Bills in One Place
This mission is simple and requires very little time. Gather together all of your monthly bills and find a central home for them. You could certainly purchase a letter organizer (I have one from the Dollar Store), but a shoe box, basket, binder or even a folder will do the trick. Choose an area of your home that is convenient but won’t become cluttered with other items. It needs to be central enough to your “bringing in the mail” process that you’ll be able to easily slide the bills into place.
Mission #2: Find a Budgeting Resource
Especially if you have never done this before, you need to find a good resource to budget in the New Year. If a particular mode or method hasn’t worked for you in the past, spoiler alert: it won’t work in the future either. I have free printable budget forms and expenditure logs that you can print out right now. However, you might fare better with Quicken or even a free online resource like Mint.com. You could even use plain old pencil and paper or go old school with a ledger. Be sure to choose a resource that fits your personality and household flow.
Mission #3: Clean Out Your Pantry & Fridge
I know what you’re thinking. What in the world does cleaning out the pantry and fridge have to do with my finances? I was looking for real help here, lady. Just hang in there with me for a minute. I find that more people get off budget in how they feed their face than any other area of their household. This happens primarily because we purchase foods that we forget we even have. So take 15 minutes to clean out your pantry, cabinets, freezer, and fridge. This will help you have a good inventory before you grocery shop next. Then, you can use what you already have and trim your bill down just a little bit. That simple step could boost your saving or debt repayment goals.
Mission #4: Begin Collecting Your Receipts
The holidays can make a mess of our wallets. We forget what we purchased where and the bottom of your purse becomes a jungle of twisted register tape. Now is the time to get those receipts organized and recorded. You don’t have to purchase an incredibly pricey system to keep your ducks in a row. Something as simple as a manilla envelope can begin the path to clarity. In the New Year, as you determine categories of spending and budget specific targeted limits for your finances, aim to collect your receipts for 30-60 days. Spend like you would regularly (no miserly “we can’t have that” and at the same time no Real Housewives, either) and then evaluate after a designated time frame. You can better see where you should trim your spending and what your expenses should realistically be.
Mission #5: Order a Book To Inspire
While you can’t read a book in 15 minutes, you can at least order a resource to inspire. I’d love for you to pick up a copy of Slaying the Debt Dragon: How One Family Conquered Their Money Monster and Found an Inspired Happily Ever After, our story of paying off $127K in 4 years. However, there are plenty of other great books, too. I’d recommend The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness, The Good Life for Less: Giving Your Family Great Meals, Good Times, and a Happy Home on a Budget, Living Well, Spending Less: 12 Secrets of the Good Life, and The Money Saving Mom’s Budget: Slash Your Spending, Pay Down Your Debt, Streamline Your Life, and Save Thousands a Year. If you’re too strapped for cash to order a book, request it from your library. At some point, we all realize our own ideas aren’t working and we need some fresh inspiration to recharge our finances. A good book might help you do that!
Each of these missions are simple. Dive and get after it. This is your year to get on track financially. This is the year you curb your spending and kick debt in the teeth. This is the year you can be better at managing what you’ve been given. Financial organization provides a firm foundation for your feet as you leap into a new year brimming with possibility.
Gain inspiration to pay off debt! Check out Inspiration to Pay Off Debt: 30 Days of Encouragement from the Queen of Free on Kindle or Pre-Order Slaying the Debt Dragon: How One Family Conquered Their Money Monster and Found an Inspired Happily Ever After (due out January 2015).
This post contains an affiliate link. That means when you get a great deal or maybe even something for free, you also help our family pay off our mortgage early. And for that, we royally thank you!