By now you've probably tried all the tricks in the book. You have an expense calculator, an expense tracker, a savings goal counter, and several spreadsheets that help you keep track of your finances. Your phone's calendar app beeps to remind you of payments for several different loans and credit cards.
But how is that simple?
The first rule for improving your personal finances is to gather all of your information and gain control. You need to know how much you're earning, spending, and saving. If you can't think of these numbers off the top of your head -- or quickly find the answers -- then you're making things too complicated.
Nine Key Ways To Simplify Your Personal Finances
Write Everything Down
This is the first step. Before you can move forward and cut down the many steps you take to manage your personal finances, you have to write down your income and all of your expenses. Don't be afraid to be as brutally honest as possible. You're not showing this to anyone else, after all.
Once you've gathered all the data you need, you now have a good idea of all of your financial details. It's just a matter of sorting things out for better control.
Switch to Paperless Billing
It can be very tiring, keeping track of all your bills. It's a lot of paper to deal with. Apart from being the environment-friendly option, emailed bills are safer because you won't be leaving them lying around for the wrong eyes to see.
Plus, you can easily check your expenses and upcoming payments by simply looking at your statements online.
Pay Your Bills Online
Harness the power of the Internet and pay your bills online.
A lot of banks now allow you to make payments via the Internet.
There's no need to step out of the house and get into a line at your bank or utility company just to handle your bills. Plus, you'll never have to worry about late payments, since you can send money even in the middle of the night.
It's also a lot easier to just set up a reminder and then pay your bill off immediately. When you have to set aside time to visit the bank and make your payments, you're likely to forget things and end up with late charges.
Set Up Reminders For Bills Payment
As mentioned earlier, you don't want to forget about your expected payments. A reminder on your phone should alert you to make your payment quickly and easily. Just pick one calendar app and choose a time that is best for you. The alarm should go off a few days before the deadline, ideally.
Don't ignore the alarm, though, because then it would be pointless. Pay your bills as soon as the alarm goes off. Don't put it off because chances are good that you will forget.
Use One App to Manage Your Personal Finances
Try to use only one app to manage your personal finances. The right one would allow you to sync to multiple devices. This way, you'll be able to record your expenses on the go, and then see the spreadsheet or chart chronicling your spending habits on your desktop computer.
Don't be tempted to have multiple apps handling your finances at the same time. The key here is consolidation and organization.
If you don't get everything together, you run the risk of confusing yourself. Pick one application and stick to it.
Get Rid Of Credit Cards You Don't Use
You don't really need five different credit cards. Instead, pick the ones that are truly useful, like cards that offer rebates for purchases from your favorite store. The rest can go.
This will also save you a remarkable amount of money from the annual fees.
This is closely related to the credit card tip above. When you use cash, it's a lot easier to keep track of the money you spend. For better or worse, a credit card deals in "imaginary" money -- at least until the bill comes in.
It's a good idea to stick to cash for most of your purchases. You'll be able to simplify your finances and see exactly where your money goes.
Tax season is difficult and definitely the most challenging part of your financial life.
To make things easier, keep a filing system. An accordion envelope is the easiest way to keep everything in one place but still segregate them accordingly. Sort through these documents before you start working on your tax report.
Consolidate Your Investments
Though it's true that you have to be pragmatic and not put all your eggs in one basket, you can consolidate like investments to make things simpler. For example, your old work 401k account can be transferred to your new retirement plan. It's better than keeping separate investment accounts for retirement, and will definitely help simplify your financial life.