Declutter Your Finances

Declutter Your FinancesRecently I began to tackle a project that I had been thinking about for months: re-organize and clean my home office.

It needed to be done because it was no longer a good working space. Since I work from home, this was an essential project.

I am very organized person so I tend to have everything in folders and binders, but even for me you can easily accumulate more than you need over time.

But with the summer just starting I found myself with a little time to finally tackle it. So a couple of weeks ago I spent around 4 hours just getting rid of old documents and other items that were not longer needed.

I also changed the location of my printer and my filing cabinets (optimizing space) and made some room for books that were just in a pile in a corner. Finally, I bought a new and much needed wireless keyboard.

I ended up with a much better work space. I have some more cleaning up to do, but finishing at least the first part of that project gave me a great sense of control and peace.

It also put me in a better frame of mind to work.

Subscribe to future Blog Posts

Is it Time to Declutter your Finances?

When we talk about managing our personal finances, clutter can also become a part of the experience.

It is possible that you have not taken a hard look about what you are doing to manage your money in a while. It is possible that this neglect has made things more complicated and perhaps less pleasant.

And you are not in a good frame of mind to work on your finances, you progress can be hindered.

With that in mind, I want to give you a few tips that I have picked up over the years to organize and operate our financial management system.

Bill Management

We are 15 years into the 21st century and we are in the midst of the Information Age. We can use this to our advantage.

  • Go from paper to online/e-mail delivery.
    • If you are adept at using a computer and the internet, this is a great option to eliminate paper clutter in your house.
    • Most service providers give you this option. Of all our monthly bills only one comes to the house via regular mail and that’s because the service provider does not offer the electronic option. Everything else comes to us electronically.
  • Use financial management software to manage your bills and track your expenses.
    • Set monthly reminders of when bills are due. It is easy if you have a busy schedule, to forget when every bill is due. Perhaps you are used to just waiting for that bill to be delivered in the mail. Take control and set some reminders for yourself.
    • Plan when bills are going to be paid. You probably already do this in your head. For each pay cycle, you know which bills get paid. In my case, I get paid twice a month. With the 1st pay check we cover the mortgage, the cable/online bill, and our cell phones. With the 2nd pay check we cover utilities and auto insurance.
    • I have setup our money tracking software with those dates as monthly reminders to make sure that payment goes out on time.
    • By using software you can easily produce are report of you are tracking against your budget for the month.

Subscribe to our Monthly Newsletter

Online Banking

In this Information Age, we can also take advantage of online banking. Most banks and credit unions offer this option. Here is a few of the things you can do:

  • Always have access your accounts online and keep track of when payments and deposits are processed.
  • Get your monthly statements online and easily reconcile them.
  • Pay your bills via your bank and avoid delays associated with regular mail. You can also set some recurring bills to be automatically paid for you every month.
  • Easily transfer money between your accounts.
  • Most banks and credit unions also offer applications (Apps) for your smart phone so you can do everything you normally would do on your computer via your phone.

Stay in Control

One of the keys to winning with your finances is gaining control over what’s happening to your money.

You can have more influence in the outcome of your finances if you stay on top of them.

I have shared some of the tips that have helped me stay ahead of the game.

I hope they help you stay ahead of your financial management game.

Question: What steps could you take today to declutter your finances?

Stay on Track with Your Finances this Summer

Stay on Track with Your Finances this SummerWell, summer is here!!! School is over and for many people this is the time of the year where they take extended vacations.

With the change in season, comes a change in pace. I was recently reminded of the importance of having a routine for staying on track to achieve your goals even when our schedule changes.

Subscribe to future Blog Posts

I am in a weight management program and at our last meeting we were reminded of the importance to keeping our routine. We could plan ahead for major events and attending as many weekly meetings as possible to remain accountable.

Our church also has a special summer emphasis on staying on track with our regular giving. As people schedules change, some of the things we normally do can get off track.

Successful financial management is also fueled by routine.

Preparing a budget every month. Paying your bills on time. Saving on a regular, systematic basis.

So if you are planning to be on vacation this summer, plan ahead. Look at your budget 2-3 months in advance.

Take advantage of on-line pay bills through your bank.

Place your savings and investment on an automated draft from your checking account.

Make sure your finances stay on the cool side in the heat of the summer!!!

Subscribe to our Monthly Newsletter

Managing vs. Eliminating Your Debt

Managing vs. Eliminating DebtI have a question for you. Should you be managing your debt or eliminating your debt?

This is a key question that you must answer and your response will determine your level of success with your finances.

If you are comfortable with keeping and managing your debt, you will spend your time making just the minimum payments, worried about how to increase your FICO score, and looking for options to move your debt around to the next card that offers you a “free interest balance transfer”.

You will be ok with always having a car payment and just using credit to get anything you think you need.

Debt will always be your companion.

Subscribe to future Blog Posts

However, if your focus is on eliminating debt, you will put your energy on how to increase your income or cut your budget so you can apply more of money to your debt snowball.

You are not simply playing with credit cards, you are ready to break up with them for good.

You will learn to be patient and save for the things you want to buy.

Debt will no longer your companion, but your enemy. The enemy of your financial prosperity. Once you are done with it, you can move on to bigger and better things.

What will it be for you? Will you keep working on managing your debt or will you put your focus and passion on eliminating your debt?

Subscribe to our Monthly Newsletter

What Do You Need to Win with Money?

What Do You Need to Win with Money?Have you ever seen the movie the “Wizard of Oz”? It is considered an American classic and it debuted 75 years ago this year.

My wife has been participating in a local musical production of the “Wizard of Oz” as a pianist. I had the great opportunity of watching the performance last week.

In the story, young Dorothy gets swept out of her home in Kansas by a tornado and she lands in the magical Land of Oz All she wants to go is to get home and she is told only the Great Wizard of Oz can help her.

So Dorothy goes off to see the Wizard and along the way she meets 3 new friends: a Scarecrow who lacks a brain, a Tin Man who lacks a heart, and a Lion who lacks courage.

All 3 of them join Dorothy on her quest to see the Wizard in hopes he can help them as well. In the end, they all get what they need, but the Wizard had very little to do with it.

Subscribe to future Blog Posts

When I think about our finances, I think we all have the same needs Dorothy and her friends did.

Let me explain:

  • We need our brain to be activated. We need to be involved with what happens with our money. We need to learn new information and we need to be wise with our financial decisions.
  • We also need our heart to be engaged. If we are going to change our financial situation, a lackadaisical approach is not going to cut it. We need to put some passion and emotion into it.
  • Finally, we need courage. Courage to make tough decisions. Courage to make sacrifices and changes in our habits. Courage to be honest with our spouses in terms of finances.

Subscribe to our Monthly Newsletter

And most of all, like Dorothy we all need to go home. What do I mean?

You need to make sure your home is well taken care of in terms of your finances.

Do not disengage. Do not abandon your spouse in the management of money. Do not neglect the future of your children.

Go home and take care of business.

Fortunately for you, just like with the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Lion you already have what you need. You don’t need a Wizard.

You have what you need you to take care of what needs to be done with your money.

Get after it!

Question: What do you need today to begin to take control of your money?

Out of Slavery: Life After Debt

Out of Slavery - Life After DebtThe other night I was flipping through channels on TV (you know, 300 channels nothing good to watch) and I landed on the SyFy Channel and an episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation”.

It was one of my favorites (“Redemption“) so I decided to go ahead and finish it.

Of course, since I was watching live TV, I had to endure the commercials.

Interestingly enough, several of the commercials were devoted to companies offering debt consolidation, credit counseling, and mortgage assistance services.

The promises by each of these companies were pretty enticing. Some of it went along the lines of: “Payoff all your debt quickly and easily!“, or “You have the right not to pay what you owe!“, or “We can save you thousands of dollars on interest!“, “It’s free!“.

It sounded too good to be true, and given we were watching the SyFy Channel, it made me think that these companies knew the audience would be willing to believe in claims that have very little to do with reality.

When something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. The reality is that there are still some lingering effects from the Great Recession of 2008.

Banks and lending companies are enforcing tight standards for granting credit. Even the government has tried to help by putting more controls around consumer credit card companies.

And certainly everyone had to stop and take a moment to evaluate how we handle money in view of potential down cycles of our economy.

But as you think about your particular situation, let me challenge you to consider some basic principles around debt and how to overcome it.

Regardless of where you are today: lots of debt, little debt, or no debt, these principles are true and when they are applied they will cause you to win with money.

There is life after debt.

Subscribe to future Blog Posts

First, what’s God’s view on debt?

“The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.”
Proverbs 22:7 (ESV)

Think about that statement for a moment. In essence it says that when you owe money to another person or entity, you are a slave to that person.

Think about what you owe. That person or entity chooses what interest rate you pay, when you pay, and what the minimum is. They control that portion of your income.

If you fail to pay for any reason they can take the asset or garnish wages after securing a judgment against you. They are in total control.

Subscribe to our Monthly Newsletter

Second, why do we use debt?

  • We don’t plan for expenses. When we don’t have control of our money through a budget it never seems we have enough to cover all expenses.
  • Lack of discipline for saving money leaves us relying on debt to cover emergencies.
  • We seek to take advantage of “deals” such as airline miles, hotel points, cash back, etc. We typically spend more when we use plastic. So we tend to spend more by chasing the magical free air fare or hotel stay.
  • We are influenced by the culture. We accept that paying interest is a way of life and that is the only way to get what we think we need.

There is no easy fix for getting out of debt.  There is no magical pill or perfect government program to get you out of debt.

You have to do it, you have to take control. You will get out of debt only when:

  1. You admit that using debt/credit will not bring you prosperity.
  2. You get sick to your stomach when you realize how much money you are paying in interest.
  3. You get tired of carrying the debt burden.

I know it can be stressful to carry the debt load because I have been there. I know it might seem impossible to pay it off but you can do it.

Let me tell you that I know it is possible to be debt free because my wife and I have done it. We paid off almost $50K in unsecured debt in 29 months.

We did it with God’s provision and by applying His principles. It was not easy but it was totally worth it.

Today, we are no longer slaves to debt. We are free of debt and we are walking with hope and in control of our finances.

How would life look to you if you were debt free? What could you do?

Contact me and let me show you how you can have life after debt.

It can happen!

“Debt is dumb. Most normal people are just plain broke because they are in debt up to their eyeballs with no hope of help. If you’re in debt, then you’re a slave because you do not have the freedom to use your money to help change your family tree.”
Dave Ramsey, Author and Personal Finance Expert