How To Organize Your Finances January 22nd, 2008 · No Comments by Galia Gichon illustration by Barbara Hranilovich For many of us, lack of organization is the biggest obstacle to taking control of our finances. You might need to spend a bit of time initially to get everything in order, but then, on an ongoing basis, it just takes a few minutes every week—and it’s so worth the time. Here are a few tips to get you started. Make Bill Paying as Easy as Possible This is especially important if you find that you’re often incurring late fees. You can utilize an automatic bill-paying system through your credit card or online bank account. Get certain bills put onto your credit card automatically every month. This is very helpful for your cable and electric bills in particular. What to Do With All That Paper? Let’s start with investment statements. First, open everything that comes in the mail. You should only keep the following: your most recent statement, a statement if you bought or sold any shares, and the year-end statement. Everything else you can toss (or shred). Setting up individual files for all your separate accounts is worth the initial time. Then, when you’re doing your financial checkup or getting ready to meet with a financial advisor, you’ll be prepared. You should also create a system for your tax receipts. Make it a habit to file them as soon as they come out of your purse, wallet, or briefcase. When tax time rolls around, you’ll be so much less stressed. Is a Personal Finance Software for You? Many people buy it for personal reasons but always seem to fall behind, so it’s not for everyone. But you should still put pen to paper and come up with a spending plan or budget on a quarterly basis. Safe and Secure It’s worth the time to rent a safe-deposit box for your will, life insurance policies, and homeownership papers. Make sure that your beneficiaries have a copy of these papers as well. Consider Consolidating as Many Accounts as Possible Transfer your old 401(k) plans to your new job or to a rollover IRA, and consolidate all your IRAs into one account. You’ll get fewer statements every month and be able to keep track of your accounts more easily. Remember, disorganization is a major enemy of financial success. If you’re having trouble doing it on your own, hiring a professional organizer is a great way to get your finances in shape. Either way, organizing is the first step to taking control of your finances, so make it a priority! Galia Gichon is a member of the New York City Incubator and runs Down-to-Earth Finance . For more articles like this, visit www.ladieswholaunch.com, the first company to provide resources and connections exclusively for women entrepreneurs.