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No Budget, No Problem PART FOUR

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CONTINUED. . . .

I Can Just Spend 5 Minutes Tracking My Accounts

Even if you will never use a spreadsheet or a formal budgeting system, you can still commit to checking in on your accounts. Think of it as feeding your fish. You don’t need an elaborate fish food dispenser with bells and whistles, you just need to lift the lid,  peek in and make sure all is well.

I check our bank transactions for 5 minutes on Mondays and Fridays. And our investments on the last day of the month. This simple habit revealed three significant errors in the past few years:

  • Our bank withdrew double mortgage payments one month
  • Our car dealership set up automatic monthly car payments out of our account for someone else’s vehicle (we’re nice, but not that nice!)
  • A major investment firm gave $9,000 of our life savings to someone else because of a clerical error (read the ridiculous story here)

It is easy to assume that banks, car dealerships and investment firms won’t make mistakes, but that is not the case. Simple, regular habits will help you be more aware of your financial picture, and catch any double charges or errors. Well worth the 5-minute investment.

I Can Just Automate a Few Things

Setting up a few automations will simplify your finances and help you achieve goals faster than you think. Call your bank to get advice on which systems will serve you well.

1. Automate bill payments

If you are ever charged late fees and interest for overdue payments, this can help. And don’t forget to double-check that the correct amounts have been withdrawn, when you do your 5-minute checks.

Or set monthly notifications on your phone to pay a bill three days before the regular, monthly due date.

2. Automate savings

Does it feel unattainable to set up savings? Find out what options your bank has to make saving as painless as possible. Some banks will round up the dollar of every purchase and put it in savings (so if you spend $15.46, then 54 cents will go into your savings account). Or you can have money automatically moved into a savings ‘folder’ every time its payday. 

Even when money was very tight, my husband and I committed to regularly saving for our boys’ education. For the first few years, we invested $50 every month. When Marc was unemployed, we paused it completely. Eventually, we increased it to $100 contributions. Now 18 years later, this fund has grown to $28,000. We never imagined how small contributions would add up over time.

Imagine how liberated you will feel when you take charge of your finances. And it doesn’t have to be complicated. Choose one strategy to try today. Pick another one tomorrow.

Challenge yourself to ‘just’ be more mindful of your money and you’ll reap the rewards of small, consistent changes. Ask a friend to hold you accountable and tackle this important area together.

Your future self will thank you.

There’s nothing more stressful than feeling like your finances are spinning out of control

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Saturday, 02 July 2022