Tax accountants don’t get into trouble at the end of the year because they prepare continuously for the tax season, and you can be just as organized as the pros when it comes to your budget and taxes. Here are a few tips and tricks from the experts that will keep your accounts in order.
Get Organized (Now)
Stop procrastinating. The main tip from professionals is to start organizing your budget and receipts right now. For most people tomorrow is a myth that never comes, and when we say we’ll organize our budget tomorrow it never happens. So, here’s what you need to do:
- Look at the clock and consider your schedule for the rest of the day.
- Determine one 30-minute block of time you can spend organizing your budget.
- Stick to this scheduled slot. Work quickly, organizing for thirty minutes, and then stop.
- Repeat this process tomorrow, and every day until you are organized.
Choose a Place for Your Documents
When you have one designated place for all of your financial documents, it’s easier to keep track of them. When bills arrive, place them in your determined area immediately, and when receipts make their way home in bags, file them the same way. By doing this, you’ll ensure that everything you need of a financial nature is readily available when you’re ready to start organizing each day.
Learn to Organize Like the Pros
Once you’ve started sorting receipts and bills each day for thirty minutes, you might wonder if there’s an easier way. Here’s what the experts do to keep their budgets in order:
- Buy a filofax that has a tab for each month, and sort your receipts by month.
- Get a calendar and note each bill’s due date. Check this calendar each day to see which bills are upcoming.
- Use handy software to fill in each of your monthly bills, credits, and reoccurring payments. Find out what your monthly savings could be if you cut out some unnecessary expenditures (such as eating out, or cable).
- Make a plan to save a percentage of your income (experts recommend 10%).
Experts and financial gurus like Mark Weinberger don’t get successful or rich overnight—they plan and prepare, just like you should be doing.
Make Apps Do the Work for You
If keeping track of your finances manually isn’t an option, consider one of the following apps:
- Mint - You can consolidate all of your credit cards, bank accounts, savings accounts and other investments within this one app. Mint will also set a budget for you, let you know of upcoming bills, and tell you when you’ve gone over your budget.
- BillTracker – Keep track of your upcoming and outstanding bills with this simple-but-handy app.
- Shoeboxed – This genius app lets you take a photo of your receipts, and then processes and organizes the data so you can ditch the hard copies.
- Most major banks have apps you can connect with your online banking; check with your banks and credit card companies for any apps they offer.
Get Serious About Your Future
Tax accountants have plans for the rest of the day’s budget, as well as for their retirement, and you need to be just as serious about your own finances. Once you have your daily finances organized and you’ve begun to organize like an expert by using tools and software, all that remains is savings. Find out what kind of retirement plan you are comfortable with, and plan for it. Whether it’s a company savings plan or a personal goal to save 10% of every paycheck and invest in mutual funds, you need to start today.
Your finances don’t have to be confusing or messy; all they require is a little attention and organization. With just 30 minutes a day of focused organizing and sorting and a few free online tools, you can easily become a tax accountant’s dream client: informed, prepared, and ready for the unexpected.
Bank fees, software, tax preparation: if you aren’t careful, your money can wind up costing you a pretty penny : Don’t Pay to Manage Your MoneyFeatured photo credit: Senior hands saving some money for retirement (isolated on black) via Shutterstock