If you have an ample stash of cash in your savings account, a hefty retirement fund and a healthy investment portfolio, give yourself a pat on the back and read no further. If you don’t know how many cash withdrawals you make in a month, wake up in the middle of the night wondering if you scheduled an online bill payment or play the lottery as a retirement plan, you might want to read on.
Keeping Track of e-Banking
Gone are the days of standing in line at the bank to deposit a paycheck and calculating how much cash to withdraw to pay for groceries, gas and other essentials. Now most of us rely on automatic deposits, online banking and ATM cards to save time and reduce the drudgery of bill paying. While we’ve made great advances with electronic banking, we’ve lost our physical connection with money. It’s much easier to hold on to a dollar when it’s in your hand. If you manage your finances electronically, you need a good system to track your finances.
Step 1: Take Stock of Assets and Debts
Figure out what you earn and spend in a month. You can use software like Quicken®, online banking tools, or a pre-formatted form like Kiplinger’s Budget Worksheet. Print out this monthly snapshot of your finances, and put it in a Bindertek Household Budget Binder. For those accustomed to e-finances, a printed worksheet may seem counter-intuitive, but this is the best way to visualize what you’ve got. Customize the Bindertek Household Budget Binder and change the tab titles to match your particular expenses and accounts. Gather all your bills, pay stubs, receipts and bank statements together, and organize them within the applicable index tabs.
Step 2: Create an Easy-to-Follow Budget
A good rule of thumb is the 50/30/20 budget, detailed in the book “All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan” by Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Warren Tyagi. Allot 50% of your income to needs, like utility bills, groceries, mortgage, rent, insurance and car payments. Spend 30% on wants, which are the things you don’t need to survive like clothes, cable television, and unlimited data plans. Save the remaining 20% or use it to pay off credit card debt. Prioritize the expenses in your binder as needs or wants. Once you’ve got all your expenses in front of you, it will be easy to see where you need to cut and where you can afford to spend a bit more. Designate a tab for savings and/or credit card payments as a nice visual reminder of your growing wealth.
Step 3: Managing Receipts: Think Inside the Box
At a minimum, you should hold on to ATM withdraw slips and receipts until you reconcile them with your monthly bank and credit card statements. Create a central place to collect all your receipts throughout the month. Place a Semikolon Mini Box, Document Box or Bindertek Executive Project Box where receipts tend to pile up to make this an easy part of your routine. Once you’ve reconciled the receipts, save the tax-related receipts in a Bindertek Income Tax Binder and use Binder Envelopes to organize the other receipts you need to keep for returns, warranties, proofs of purchase, etc.
Step 4: Keep Track of Electronic Bill Paying
Store pre-punched paper or a Bindertek Calendar Pad in the front of your Household Budget Binder. Keep track of your electronic payments here and be sure to note confirmation numbers, payment amounts, due dates and scheduled payment dates. Invest a few minutes per week and enter your expenses and deposits into your tracking system to stay within budget. With the Bindertek Household Budget Binder, a good tracking system and an easy-to-follow budget, you can manage your money in a tangible way, and watch the money pile up.