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How to Free Yourself from Paper Clutter

How to Free Yourself from Paper Clutter
paper stack

    I frequently chase the dream of being paperless. But I have come to the brink of acceptance: for me, it will never be wholly achievable. You will always need some papers to actually exist in physical form. Even with the theory of a paperless office, clutter still manages to amass somewhere. Whether it’s on your desk or on your hard drive, you know if you are guilty of it. However, the time it takes to go back and streamline your filing system is overwhelming. Especially if you have let it go for a long time.

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    In a world desperate to become “paperless”, we still tend to keep everything and anything. While digital filing can eliminate the need for bulky filing cabinets for a visually pleasing office, the chaos of digital files looms on your hard drive, your external drives and however many CD’s/DVD’s you have with “stuff” on them. But whether you are attempting paperless or still using the old-fashioned method of papers in a filing cabinet, there are ways to clean up your financial documents.

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    With the new year rolling in and tax season upon us, why not set aside some time to make sure you are keeping what you really need? I have set up some guidelines for what to keep and what you can safely put in the trash bin.

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    Toss Every Month

    • ATM And bank-deposit slips, after you’ve recorded the amounts in your check register and checked them against your monthly bank statement.
    • Credit-card receipts, after you’ve checked to make sure the item appears correctly on your monthly statement.
    • Sales receipts for minor purchases, after you’ve satisfactorily used the item and if it has no warranty (and is not deductable).
    • Phone and utility bills (unless you deduct them as business expenses.)
    • Cable or other service bills can safely be tossed every month.

    Toss After One Year

    • Monthly bank and credit-card statement (if you don’t itemize deductions).
    • Monthly or quarterly brokerage and mutual-fund statements, after you’ve reconciled them with your year-end summary.
    • Monthly mortgage statements, as long as your year-end statement clearly shows the total amount you’ve paid in interest and property taxes over the course of the year.
    • Phone and utility bills (as long as you don’t have a home office, use your phone for business calls, or anticipate any need to prove long-term residency).
    • Paycheck stubs, after you’ve reconciled them with your annual W-2 or 1099 forms.

    Retain for Seven Years

    • W-2 AND 1099 forms.
    • Year-end statements from credit-card companies and banks.
    • Phone and utility bills (only if you deduct any portion for business expenses, have more than one home, or have moved within the past few years).
    • Canceled checks and receipts/statements for: annual mortgage interest and property taxes, deductible business expenses, child-care bills, out-of-pocket medical costs, or any other tax-deductible expense.

    Keep Indefinitely

    • Your annual tax returns./li>
    • Your year-end summaries from financial-services companies.
    • Confirmation slips that list the purchase price of any investments you own.
    • Home-improvement records.
    • Receipts for major purchases. (Any item whose replacement cost exceeds the deductible on your homeowners’ or renters’ insurance policy).
    • Beneficiary designations.

    Keeping files and papers that you don’t need just create more clutter. It leads to less productivity because you spend more time sifting through thousands of papers to find that needle in a haystack. Now that you have some guidelines, don’t you think it’s time you go through your files for a cleaner, more productive workspace?

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    Published on July 4, 2018

    Top 10 Recommendations on Money Management Apps

    Top 10 Recommendations on Money Management Apps

    Don’t want to overspend your budget, swipe your credit card too many times, and feel like a financial mess? Instead of beating yourself up for the bad financial decisions you’ve ever made, create a new plan!

    The solution is simple, save more and spend less. But, we all know it’s easier said than done.

    One problem is finding quality apps that save you time and money, and aren’t just hype.

    Luckily, there’re many great money management apps available at your fingertips. Here are 10 reliable money management apps that can help you save money, and crush debt.

    1. Personal Capital

      When was the last time you’ve tracked your net worth? Probably months ago or maybe never. Personal Capital allows you to easily track your net worth and plan for retirement.

      Here are some of its main features:

      • Sync many investment accounts, and expenses (mortgage, credit cards, etc.) in one place
      • Discover hidden fees and how much they’re affecting your retirement plan
      • Wealth management for investors requiring a long-term strategy

      With Personal you’re free to track your expenses and net worth.

      Available for: iOS and Android

      2. Mint

        If your smartphone could only install a few apps, Mint would be one of them. Why? Because Mint tracks all your balances and bills in one place.

        Here are some of its main features:

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        • Effortlessly track all your bills and balances in one dashboard
        • Categorized expenses to understand where you spend your money
        • Uncover hidden fees, and determine your investment style with sophisticated retirement tools.

        Feel at ease with managing your money by a reputable company that isn’t going anywhere.

        Available for: iOS and Android

        3. YNAB

          Everyone needs a budget, there’s no way around it. YNAB (You Need A Budget) is an easy to use app that will change the way you think about money. Their motto is to “give every dollar a job”, and you’ll quickly discover why.

          Here are some of its main features:

          • Easily sync all bank accounts in one place
          • Visually see your debt paying progress with eye-catching charts and notifications
          • Customized categories setting saving goals

          The best part about YNAB is the community that comes along with it. You can hop on the YNAB forum to receive support, listen to the YNAB Podcast or stay tuned for their weekly videos.

          Available for: iOS and Android

          4. Wealthfront

            Albert Einstein once said “compound interest is the eight wonder in the world”, and for a very good reason. The problem is, most people are scared or unwilling to learn the basics of investing. This is why Wealthfront is the perfect solution for the hands-off investors.

            Here are some of its main features:

            • Variety of investment account options including IRA, Roth IRA, and more
            • Your portfolio composed of 7 different asset classes
            • Automatically rebalanced portfolio
            • Daily tax loss harvesting

            Wealthfront is perfect for people requiring investment guidance, or prefer a hands-off solution.

            Available for: iOS and Android

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            5. Clarity Money

              If you’re staying on top of your budget but want to take your finances to the next level, Clarity Money can help you. Clarity Money helps you stay under budget and build a personalized savings plan.

              Here are some of its main features:

              • Easily cancel subscriptions with one click
              • Synchronize bank accounts fast
              • Transfer money effortlessly between different accounts

              Clarity Money isn’t an app that does it all. But, it does make transferring money and canceling subscriptions fast and efficient.

              Available for: iOS and Android

              6. Acorns

                What if there was a way to quickly gain confidence in investing your money, without too much risk? There is, and Acorns is your solution. With Acorns’s technology, you’re able to make investments as small as $5.

                Here are some of its main features:

                • Automatic contribution option
                • Customized portfolio tailored to your needs
                • Low management fees ranging from $1-$2 per month

                Stop wasting dollars on expensive coffee. Instead, invest them towards a brighter financial future.

                Available for: iOS and Android

                7. Albert

                  Do you budget by only subtracting your expenses from your income? If so, how would you discover any overpayments or extra money you could save? This is where Albert shines, and it does it all free.

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                  Here are some of its main features:

                  • Receive notifications for overpayments, hidden fees, and low balances
                  • An Automatic budget that’s built around your spending and income
                  • Easily track debt and set new financial goals

                  While Albert does offer a paid option, most of its core features are FREE. So, what better option to save?

                  Available for: iOS

                  8. Prism

                    Have you recently forgot to pay a bill because life got in the way? Prism automatically tracks your bills and syncs your bank accounts in one place.

                    Here are some of its main features:

                    • View all your account balances in one glance
                    • Bill due dates are automatically pulled and tracked
                    • Receive early reminders for upcoming bills

                    If your budget is on “fleek” but can’t seem to stay on top of your bills, Prism is your go-to app.

                    Available for: iOS, Android, Windows, Amazon

                    9. Mvelopes

                      Remember hearing about people using envelopes to budget their money? Well, Mvelopes is the new envelope system for this generation. Easily create monthly budgets and track your saving goals.

                      Here are some of its main features:

                      • Connect unlimited bank accounts
                      • Real-time budgeting with auto transaction syncing
                      • Low monthly $4 fee or $40 annual

                      Mvelopes can help you crush debt, save more, and help you stop overspending. With its low monthly fee, it’s worth a try.

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                      Available for: iOS and Android

                      10. Wallaby

                        Most people don’t have time to track their credit card’s changing rewards and interest rates. Because of this, you need help reaping the most of your credit card’s rewards. Wallaby is the app that will help you do just that.

                        Here are some of its main features:

                        • Automatic recommendations for the best credit card to use for each transaction
                        • A friendly user interface, displaying credit cards with their corresponding images
                        • Free to use

                        If you’re using the same credit card to make your purchases, you may be leaving money on the table. Give Wallaby a try if you’re ready to maximize your credit card’s rewards.

                        Available for: iOS and Android

                        Take control of your finances and experience financial freedom

                        Picture yourself staying on budget and saving more money than you’d ever imagined.

                        It took hard work and dedication but you’d finally learned how to manage your money. You have to start taking control of your spending and saving habits.

                        You now have a list of reliable apps that can help you build better money habits, what are you waiting for?

                        Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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