My closest friends and relatives are probably going to get a real kick out of this post. My house, work desk, life, etc., is never the most organized looking thing around. I’m just not ever going to be one of those people who have a spotless house or perfectly clutter-free desk. I like to call my areas organized chaos because I generally know exactly where to retrieve whatever I need but to outsiders it might occasionally look like I’ve been ransacked. Sorry mom…
One area I’m pretty organized at though is my finances and shuffling my life schedule. Granted I work in the accounting field and I’m a bit of a numbers geek so maybe I have a slight advantage there. I also tend to be juggling several responsibilities at any given time, such as multiple jobs and kid schedules and whatever creative endeavors I’m working on at any given time so being organized with time-management is essential.
Here are 5 ways your lack of organization might be costing you money:
Guess what? If you lose your electricity bill then you’re most likely going to get hit with a late fee at best and you might run the risk of having your electricity cut off in extreme situations.
Lose your mortgage bill? Yep, late fees here as well and maybe a ding to your credit report, which can also cost you money down the road if you’re considered a late payer.
Get a cheap calendar and put every bill you have on there 2-3 days before its due date so you have time to make the payment before it’s late.
Alternatively you can set all you bills up on auto-pay so you know they’ll be paid on time. Only due this though if you’re sure the necessary funds will be in there before the company drafts your payment. This leads to my next point.
Not Balancing Your Checkbook
I’m a little old-school and actually use a check register. I like having this always readily handy in my purse so I know if I have the funds in my account when I get a little crazy at Target for the third time this week. I also have an Excel spreadsheet that I update almost daily so I can see how I’m doing in all my budget categories for the month. Nothing worse then finding out you have used your monthly restaurant or grocery budget up by week two.
Checking your bank account daily or at least weekly for those of you that aren’t number geeks like me can help you see where you are on your spending and gives you the chance to change course if you’ve spent a little extra early on in the month. You can either cut back your spending in that category or shift funds from somewhere else.
Don’t think you can open your bank app and take a peek at the balance there and be okay. A check or automatic payment may not have cleared yet. I use my Target debit card a lot and there’s usually a day delay before those funds clear my account. I purchased some books at my nephew’s book fair and even though I used my debit card there, the purchase did not clear for almost a week. Not a big deal to me though because I’d already subtracted the purchase in my check register.
Write it down! I don’t care if it’s in the free check register the bank gives you, a spreadsheet, or a personal finance app like Mint or Personal Capital, just write it down. You’re not necessarily going to remember that you stopped at Starbucks and got a Venti-sized Chai Tea Latte before on Thursday because you were losing your mind over all the crazy Christmas shoppers at Target last week (do you see a theme here? I really love Target, stay tuned for a future blog post on my Target support group I’m forming). You might also forget that you handed your son $40 when he was headed back to college last weekend because you didn’t want him to be cash-less on the commute back.
Forgetting to Cancel Memberships/Subscriptions
Seems like businesses are constantly offering free trials or subscriptions for their products. Want to try ShowTime out for a month at no cost? Heck yeah, I can catch up on what Claire Danes is doing on Homeland. Know what your cable company is counting on? Yep, they’re counting on the fact that you will forget to call and cancel that a free trial in time and suddenly your cable bill is $35 higher next month. Sneaky punks.
What about that gym membership you’re not using? Or we had a Microsoft Office monthly subscription but then we bought a new laptop for my son when he left for college and the laptop purchase came with a discounted Office subscription so we needed to cancel our old one.
Action Plan: Yep, your trusty calendar again. If you have to cancel by December 17th then write it down on your calendar to cancel ShowTime on December 15th so you’re safe. Check your bank accounts for any subscriptions or memberships you’re not using and cancel those if possible before they charge you for another month.
This applies to your health, your vehicles, and your home maintenance. I avoided the doctor for years and I’m still not crazy about going and honestly tend to avoid it until I’m either deathly ill or they refuse to renew my medication without a check-up. I’m even worse about the dentist because I have a crazy phobia about the dentist and as a result I know when I do break down and go I’m going to end up with a hefty bill.
I live in a condo that was built in the 70’s. Things are going to break down and need updated. I know this because I was also built in the 70’s and I’m also slowly breaking down… I pay for a monthly maintenance plan because I know I’m not in a position to replace all these old appliances and operating systems out of pocket. I’ve had to replace two toilets, my microwave, and dishwasher already this year. If I had let this maintenance policy lapse this past April then I would have been on the hook for all these expenses.
Action Plan: Schedule your doctor and dentist and dermatologist and any other medical specialists right now. Spread them out throughout the year if you need to but get them on the books. Specialists especially tend to have their appointments booked out months in advance.
Get your oil changed in your car on a regular basis. It’s a bit of a hassle but much more affordable then having to replace your car because the engine blew up. Get your brakes replaced before you have to get new rotors. Get new tires so you don’t have a blow-out on the expressway.
Get your HVAC serviced on a routine basis to hopefully avoid and/or learn of any potential problems before it’s an emergency and you need a new air conditioner when it’s 103 degrees outside or you’re without heat in the freak ice storm that happens in November.
Remember how I mentioned those pesky specialists appointments that you sometimes have to schedule out 6 months ahead of time? People tend to forget about those. My doctors generally have a courtesy call to me to remind me but some don’t. Know what happens when you miss those appointments? They charge you for the appointment anyway and I can promise you that insurance does not pay for no-show appointments.
Action Plan: Okay, if you’re still reading this by now and you haven’t gone out to buy a planner/calendar yet then I give up. You must have so much money that it doesn’t matter if you squander it away. Have it and remember me when you’re preparing your Christmas list.
2019 is coming up fast and hopefully I’ve motivated at least a couple of people to get organized with their finances. Now if I could just motivate myself to work on all those messy spots in my house. I know a certain walk-in closet that needs some serious attention. What areas in your life need to be organized the most?