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5 Ways To Simplify Your Finances and Workflow

5 Ways To Simplify Your Finances and Workflow

Working as a consultant has its benefits, but there are some tasks that can give you a real headache towards the end of the month. Don’t get me wrong, pay day is my favorite day of the week, but keeping track of paid and owed expenses, staying on top of clients, and organizing accounts gets old quick. Add that to home bills and personal finances, and things can get messy. Throughout the past couple years from reading books, blogs, and my own experiences, I’ve put together a pretty good system for expediting these tasks. Here are some things you can do to help ease the pain of paying bills and organize your finances.

Carry Cash

Carrying cash is an easy way to reduce clutter on your bank statements. Petty transactions like buying coffee, a bottle of water, or a quick bite to eat add up quickly throughout the month. It can really be frustrating going over your statements when you have a whole bunch of $1.29 purchases to sift through. Save the plastic cards for more important transactions like bills, larger purchases, and business expenses, and use cash for the small transactions.

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Automate

Automate as many tasks as you possibly can. Most online bills can be set up to automatically transfer from your accounts. This can save you tons of time logging in and out of accounts and manually paying your bills. Automation will also keep your mind clear as you won’t be worrying about whether or not you paid your bills on time; we’ve all forgotten to pay the gas bill at one point or another.

Use a Calendar

Not every bill is due monthly. Automobile registration for example is only paid once a year. Depending on what car you drive, that annual payment can be a large chunk of change and you probably weren’t expecting it to creep up on you so quickly. Keeping these types of items on a calendar can help you better prepare for expenses further into the future. You won’t be surprised when the time comes, and you’ll have properly kept enough cash on hand to pay the bill on time.

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Technology

Apps were invented for a reason – use them! While there are a lot of mediocre financial apps available, there are some that really do make finances easier.

Freshbooks

If you’re a freelancer or consultant, maybe you’ve heard of this. Freshbooks is an amazing accounting app that allows you to easily create and send invoices . Its accessible on all your devices so its easy to follow up with clients when you’re on the go. Its also free for up to three clients so it can save you money compared to the other accounting apps out there. Visit site.

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Mint

If you’re trying to budget, keep track of expenses, or organize your financials, Mint is the way to go. Its visual, easy to use, and free. Mint can save you a lot of time with its ability to tag and easily organize transactions by type, date, or account. Highly recommended. Visit site.

Pageonce

Pageonce is a fantastic app for keeping on top of bills and payments. Its an all inclusive interface that allows you to not only automate payments but track, organize, and pay bills. Use this in conjunction with other automated bill payment tasks and you’ve just saved a ton of time! Visit site.

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Venmo

If you really just can’t get yourself to carry cash or just want to keep it digital, Venmo app lets you pay your friends from your smart phone. You can easily pay friends back for lunch, the $20 they lent you three weeks ago, or buy them a drink. Visit site.

What are some methods you use to keep your finances organized at home or with clients? Share them!

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Published on September 17, 2018

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

Achieving financial success is not something that just happens. Maybe if you win the lottery or something, but for the average person like you or me, it comes from a series of small steps you take over a long period of time.

With each step, you form a new smart money habit. And with each smart money habit, you build towards financial independence.

So what sort of habits can you form to get on that path? Let’s take a look at smart money habits you can start today to get you closer to a financially independent future.

1. Avoid being “penny wise but pound foolish”

It’s tempting to try saving a couple cents here and there when buying small items. However, that’s not where the real money is saved. You’re putting in extra effort for something that doesn’t move the needle.

You get the most bang when you’re able to cut down on your bigger bills. For example, finding a lower interest rate for your mortgage could save you $50+ per month. And cutting your transportation bill by purchasing a cheaper car or taking public transportation can provide large gains as well.

So, look at your recurring expenses such as housing, transportation, and insurance, and see where there’s wiggle room. It’s a much better use of your time than trying to pinch pennies here and there on smaller purchases.

2. When you want something big, wait

Impulsivity can get you in trouble in most aspects of life. Finances are no different.

It’s human nature to see something and want it right then and there. It starts as a kid in the checkout line at the grocery store, and it continues on through adulthood.

We get an idea in our head of something we want, and it’s hard not to go out and get it right then.

A good example is wanting a new car. Perhaps you’ve had your car for several years. It’s crossed the 100k mile mark. Maybe maintenance is due, and you’re annoyed that you need to replace the timing belt or purchase new tires.

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So, you get the itch.

You start digging around online, and you realize you could trade in your current car for something newer and more exciting… all for a few hundred bucks a month. Then you get obsessed.

Here’s where you have to take a step back.

Your newfound obsession is clouding your judgement. Rather than giving into the impulse, wait it out.

Set a timeframe for yourself. Maybe you come back to the decision three months down the road. See if the obsession lasts.

It might, but often, a funny thing happens. Often, you forget about it. And often, you find that the new car wasn’t a need at all.

The impulse faded. And you just saved yourself a ton of money.

3. Live smaller than you can afford

You finally get that big raise. And you want to celebrate – and why not?

You’ve been looking forward to this forever. And after all, it was all due to your hard work.

That’s fine, splurge a little. However, make it a one-time deal and be done.

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Don’t get caught in the trap that just because you’re now making more money, you should spend more.

Too often, people get more money and feel like they that gives them the means to buy a bigger house, a bigger car… you know the drill. Resist.

The fact is that living smaller than what you can afford is one of the fastest ways to build savings.

But if you constantly upgrade as you begin to make more, then you’ll never get ahead. You’ll just build up more debt along the way and have just as little wiggle room as before.

4. Practice smart grocery shopping

Food… it’s one of the biggest portions of any budget. And if you’re not careful, it can be one of the biggest drains on your wallet.

But luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you stay smart with your money when buying groceries.

Create a grocery budget

Set a strict weekly grocery budget. When you know how much you can spend on groceries, you can then plan your weekly menu around it.

Once you know what all you need, you can go shopping and keep a running tally as you shop to ensure you’re on track.

I tend to do this in my head, rounding for each item. However, writing it down as you go would probably work best for most people.

Make a list… and never deviate

Never go to the grocery store without a list. If you go to the store with a ballpark idea in mind, you don’t have a true ide of what you need.

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You’re not well-researched. You don’t know what the sales are. As a result, you’re going to make decisions on the fly.

These impulse decisions will lead to overspending, which will derail your grocery budget.

Eat before going grocery shopping

It’s also important to eat prior to going to the grocery store. Hunger is a powerful force.

If you’re shopping on an empty stomach, everything is going to look good. In particular, you may find a lot of ready-made, processed snacks will look enticing.

After all, you’re hungry now and that food is easily available. So subconsciously, you may lean towards those items.

Unfortunately, not only are those items typically less healthy, but they’re likely more expensive. You pay for convenience.

However, when you eat prior to shopping, then you’ll shop with a clear mind. Your hunger won’t cloud your judgement, influencing you to make poor decisions like a cartoon devil resting on your shoulder whispering in your ear.

This makes it much easier to stick to your grocery plan.

5. Cancel your gym membership

Now that you’re all set on your food, it’s time to get smart about managing your budget in terms of physical fitness. And let’s begin by avoiding the gym. The gym bill, that is.

The average gym membership costs around $60 per month. That’s $720 a year.

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Yet, two out of three gym memberships go unused. That means two-thirds of people who have a gym membership are literally giving away almost a thousand bucks a year. It’s crazy!

I recommend seeking an alternative. One good alternative is to look into fitness streaming services.

Streaming services allow you to stream hundreds of workouts like Insanity and p90x, right in your own home for around $10-20 a month. That’s $40-50 less a month than the average gym membership.

Of course, then there’s the free option. The internet is full of free workouts that you can do on your own with minimal or no equipment.

For example, there’s the Couch to 5K program, that I personally used a decade ago to ease myself from couch potato to running my first 5K race. If I could do it, anyone could.

Then there are free resources like reddit that have limitless information on workouts. The Fitness subreddit has done all the research for you, populating workout tips and detailed workout routines for anyone to use in their wiki.

There are several routines that require no equipment. And you can join in on the subreddit to become part of the community, making it easier for those seeking comraderie and encouragement in their fitness goals. All for free.

It’s baby steps… And baby steps can start now!

I’ve never met anyone that can’t stand to be a bit smarter with their money. And on the flip side, anyone can get smarter with their money. But remember, it doesn’t happen all at once.

Begin by fighting your impulses. Prepare for the week and be smart at the store. And cut monthly expenses like gym memberships that are overpriced and you probably aren’t getting your money’s worth out of anyway.

The devil is in the details. And the details can change your lifestyle and prep you for a financially independent future.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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