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.

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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.

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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?

Marriage and Money: You Need a Financial Management System

Couple Working on their Finances together.

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As I have stated previously, if you are married, you need to be working with your spouse on money matters in order to have success.

You should no longer be discussing “yours” or “mine” but “our” money, “our” finances.

When you work together with your spouse on your finances, you are demonstrating:

  • Respect for your Spouse. You are saying that you respect your spouse’s capability and intellect to handle money.
  • Trust in your Spouse. You are saying that you know they have integrity and honesty and can be trusted with money matters.
  • Humility before your Spouse. You are honestly acknowledging you don’t know everything and that you can use some help in dealing with your finances.

When you deal with your spouse with respect, trust, and humility in the management of your finances, you will reach a new level of intimacy in your relationship.

What’s the practical side of working together on your finances? In order to handle your finances well, you need a financial management system.

And the best way to demonstrate respect, trust, and humility with our spouses is to have a system where both you have equal access to the information and equal ability to handle and act on the information.

Now, it is quite possible that one of the spouses routinely handles most of the load of managing the finances (e.g., preparing the budget, paying the bills, etc.). But what happens if that spouse is not available for an extended period of time?

This situation could be due to an illness, being away from the home for work or family matters, or in the worst possible scenario, that spouse dies. What happens then? Can the other spouse pick-up the load?

Again, both spouses need access to all the financial information and the ability to act on that information.

Here are the key elements of your financial management system:

1. How Do We Pay the Monthly Bills?

Your monthly budget should tell you where the money is going before the month begins. However, both you and your spouse need to also know the following with respect to your monthly expenses:

  • What are our monthly bills?
  • When are the payments due for each bill and when are the payments made for each bill?
  • What is the name and contact information for the payees for each bill?
  • How are the payments made (e.g., paid through your on-line banking system, regular check via mail, etc.)
  • How are we tracking monthly expenses?

It does not matter if your bill payment system is the old fashioned checkbook register, an Excel spreadsheet, a software program like Quicken, or an on-line program like or YNAB.

It does not matter if it is a combination of some of these tools; the point is that both spouses need the access and the ability to use the system to pay your monthly bills.

2. What are Our Assets and Liabilities?

Besides being able to handle the monthly bills, both spouses need the ability to access the information on all your assets (what you own) and liabilities (what you owe).

You both need to be able to ascertain what your current financial position is at all times.


You need the documentation on each of these asset accounts listed below. If there is paper documentation make sure you both know where it is stored.

You both should be able to access all the details and statements on the following:

  • Checking and Savings Accounts
  • Investment Accounts
  • Retirement Accounts
  • Medical Savings Accounts (e.g., Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs))
  • Home Appraisals

In today’s world, much of this information is kept on-line, so make sure you both know where to go get the information and how to access it (provider’s web sites, userids, passwords, account numbers, etc.).


It is critical that you also know what your financial responsibilities are at all times.

You need to know what the current balances are as well as the record of payments made.

  • Credit Cards
  • Car Loans
  • Student Loans
  • Personal Loans
  • Medical Bills
  • Mortgage Statements

Again, much of the information today is kept on-line so you both need the access information. But if you also have a physical filing system, make sure you both know where it is kept.

3. Where are our Key Household/Estate Documents?

Finally, both spouses should be able to access these key household/estate documents at all times. Some examples of these documents are:

  • Deed/Title information on your personal home and any other real estate you own own.
  • Insurance Policies (Life/Auto/Health/Home/ID Theft/Long Term Disability/Long Term Care)
  • Tax Returns
  • Credit Reports
  • Wills/Trusts

Regardless of how you implement it, your household needs a financial management system. And if you are married, both spouses should have the ability to access and act on that management system.

Take sometime today to make sure you love each other well by taking the step to create or revise your system.

What is your financial management system? How are you and your spouse sharing the load? Let me know!

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