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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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Last Updated on March 4, 2019

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

Many people will suggest that the best thing to do with your credit cards during these tough economic times is to cut them up with a pair of scissors. Indeed, if you are already in huge debt, you probably should stop using them and begin a payback strategy immediately. However, if you are not currently in trouble with your credit cards, there are wise ways to use them.

I happen to really love my credit cards so I will share with you my approach to how I use mine without getting into deep financial trouble.

Ever since about 1983 when I got my first Visa card, I continue to charge as many of my purchases as possible on credit. Everything from gas, groceries and monthly payments for services like my cable and home security monitoring are charged on credit. Despite my heavy usage, I have maintained the joy of never paying any interest fees at all on any of my credit cards.

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Here are some tips on how best to use your credit cards without falling into the trap of paying those nasty double-digit interest fees.

Do Not Treat Credit Cards as Your Funding Sources

Too many people treat their credit cards as funding sources for major purchases. Do not do this if you want to stay out of trouble. I use my credit cards as convenient financial instruments so I do not have to carry around much cash. In fact, I hate carrying cash, especially coins. When you buy things on credit, the purchases are clean and you will not get annoying coins back as change.

I do not rely on my Visa, MasterCard or American Express to fund any of my purchases, large or small. This brings me to my golden rule when it comes to whether I will pull out any of my credit cards either at a retail or online store.

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I never purchase anything with my credit cards if I do not have the actual cash on hand in my bank account.

If I really cannot pay for the item or service with cash that I already have at the bank, then I simply will not make the purchase. Remember, my credit cards are not used as funding sources. They are just convenient alternatives to actual cash in my pocket.

Make Sure to Always Pay Off Balances in Full Each Month

The next very important part of my overall strategy is to make absolutely sure that I pay the balances in full each and every month no matter how large they are. This should never be a problem if the cash has been budgeted for my purchases and secured in the bank. I have always paid my full balances each month ever since my very first credit card and this is why I never pay interest charges.

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Using Credit Cards with Rewards

Most of my credit cards are of the “no annual fees” type, including one MasterCard on a separate account I keep at home as a spare in case I lose my wallet or incur any fraudulent charges. However, I do use a main Visa card which does have an annual fee because all purchases on that card reward me with airline frequent flyer points. For me, the annual fee is worth it since I do travel and I get enough points to redeem many free flights.

You have to decide for yourself if you will charge enough purchases on credit each year without paying interest charges to warrant a credit card that rewards you with airline points (or other rewards). In my case, the answer is “yes” but that might not be the case for you.

I occasionally use a MasterCard or American Express card on small purchases just to keep those accounts active. Also, I have been to the odd retailer that accepted only a certain type of credit card, so I find that having one from each major company is quite handy. Aside from my main Visa card which earns the airline points, the rest of my cards are of the “no annual fees” variety.

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So this is how I use my credit cards without getting into any financial trouble with them. This strategy is recommended only if you are not in debt, of course. In fact, it is worth keeping in mind once you’re out of debt so that you can keep your credit cards active and treat them responsibly.

What are your credit card usage strategies? Let me know in the comments — I’d love to hear what methods you use.

Featured photo credit: Artem Bali via unsplash.com

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