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March 23, 2017
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May 1, 2017

Declutter Your Finances

Monthly Budget

Do you want to take control of your finances and stop living pay cheque to pay cheque? Money management is the solution, and is underscored by the wealth principle of the Millionaire Mind. The principle states that, “the habit of managing money is more important than the amount.” Correct. Habit is important but it is only part of it. Tools and tactics are also significant. It is a combination of the three where you have the largest impact. In this blog we will focus on tools and habits. 

Many people make their spending decisions using the balance in their bank account, but the balance does not tell you the true story of how much money you have. Excel can do a quasi job in providing this insight, but there is powerful money management software that can provide incredible insight and flexibility to see beyond your bank balance. It forces you to see what you really have after your monthly and annual, -fixed and -flexible expenses are withdrawn.

Use a money management tool:

It is important to note that even though software can be powerful, it still is not a silver bullet. A money manager can forecast your balance at a future point, but it is only reliable if a consistent and honest system of entry is practiced. You also can reap the reward of being able to save money like you have never saved before using a disciplined system of money management because you will have extreme clarity and make better decisions as a result.

Not everyone feels comfortable using a digital system, but it is good to challenge yourself when there is a huge potential return on investment! Here we highlight four money management systems for you to consider, but you can also check out the top ten reviewed here:

Quicken

We used Quicken years ago and really liked it. It is great if you have a PC, but we learned that Quicken for Mac is not available in Canada. Disappointing! This would be our number one choice. It was very user friendly, and we could run reports on our spending categories easily. It was able to split our transactions easily into micro categories, so we could separate clothing and food items that were on the same receipt (love it!.)

YNAB

This program will require a lot of discipline to maintain. YNAB offers a lot of workshops on money management which can help you become the next “Wealthy Barber.” They also have YouTube videos that show you how to use this program and give support. Check it out, and if you are interested, do the 35 day trial when you are ready to get your finances organized. You have to pay an annual subscription fee, which is a downside. We avoid fees, but it could be a great program for people needing to follow an effective budgeting system.

Banktivity

This application is the program we currently use in our household. Banktivity does the job, but after using Quicken and Microsoft Money for years, we don’t prefer it. We find it does not provide reports as quickly as we could produce using other money software. We also find distributing split transactions cumbersome. We started using this because of its Mac compatibility , but we are taking MoneyDance for a trial spin, and I have a feeling we will be switching over.

MoneyDance

MoneyDance is highly rated; second below Quicken. We loaded up the trial and we immediately liked the look and feel. The home screen displayed graphs comparing income and spending that Banktivity did not provide. There  is a monthly calendar that displays when our bills are due. Sweet. The next important thing for us is the reporting functionality. If it is seamless, we will be happy campers. We like that you can purchase the program outright, and are not tied to an annual fee. It works on a Mac, which we want. Stay tuned for more details as we take this program for a spin.

Cloud Convenience

If you choose to use the cloud to store your financial data, you need to ensure the program’s encryption has advanced, industry-recognized security safeguards. We personally don’t use the cloud to manage our financials, but don’t let that stop you. If you do your research and need the convenience of having your financial forecast up to date, then the cloud is an option. In our family, we do not need the added risk so only access our money program from our home server, and additionally, we never access our bank account on WiFi servers away from home. We are risk averse.

Sharpen your mindset:

Okay… with this information you are feeling tempted to get a money manager, right? Well that is good. But I want to caution you. You need the following to staying financially organized whether you are using a digital manager or a paper system; you need to be:

  • Consistent. In our household we set aside 2-3 times per week where we update our digital banking. We want it to be congruent to the bank’s balance, and we want to make sure we are still in the spending safety zone.
  • Detail oriented. The more detail oriented you are in assigning categories to your spending, the better reports you will produce. So for food, we have broken it down into groceries, snacks, dining out, and pet food.
  • Patient. This digital system may require that you watch some YouTube videos or research the Internet to learn more about how to manage your money. You may make mistakes and it could take you hours to balance. In the early days, this was my experience! However, I was disciplined because it was important to me to reach my financial goals.

So discipline is the key. Whether it is done by computer or paper, but as Iyanla Vanzant tells us “discipline is the only way to avoid struggle, chaos, and confusion.” If you need an inspiration kick in the pants, follow Iyanla, and read my recent blog post on how to get on the Road to Maximum Potential. Also read my post on creating a Simple System to Surviving Information Overload; a simple and practical system for filing your active papers.

Use the monthly bill tracker:

To get you started you need to know what your regular bill payments are. We suggest that you print out our Monthly Bill Tracker as the first step to see your outflows.

Itemize your fixed and estimate your flexible bills and then you can take this information and enter it quickly into your money management system. You will only have to enter your bills once. If the fee changes you will only need to edit the amount. You will need to create other budgeting categories for items that are variable, like groceries. Does this sound confusing or overwhelming? Well, we can assist you.

If you don’t have the patience or the time to get your personal financial tracking system set up, and you would like to learn strategies that will help you use the tools effectively, contact Organize to Optimize to see how we can assist you. Melody would be happy to provide a free 30 minute exploratory call to discuss how we can help with financial management and productivity solutions.

Professional organizing services can get you started:

Organize to Optimize provides hands-on decluttering, downsizing, and organizing services in Parksville, Nanaimo, Qualicum and surrounding areas. From de-cluttering your home or office, to organizing your digital life, we can help you reduce chaos and stress and more time and space to enjoy life.

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