6 Tips to Simplify Your Finances and Keep Good Records

Feel like your personal finances are too complicated? It's time to streamline and declutter. Laura gives tips to simplify your financial life, stay organized, and know which financial records to keep and for how long.

Laura Adams, MBA
8-minute read
Episode #532

When life gets hectic, it’s easy to let your finances get too complicated. Suddenly you realize it’s been weeks since you even thought about paying bills, reviewing account transactions, or filing mountains of paperwork. But being unorganized and losing control of your finances is a surefire way to lose money!

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In this post, you’ll learn tips to simplify your financial life and stay organized. I’ll also review what financial records to keep and for how long. Streamlining and decluttering can help you stay focused on what matters, reach your financial goals, and reduce stress.

6 Tips to Simplify Your Finances and Keep the Right Records

  1. Go Paperless.
  2. Know Which Paper Documents to Keep.
  3. Streamline Your Taxes.
  4. Create a Digital Filing System.
  5. Use Online Banking Services.
  6. Consolidate Financial Accounts.

Use these six tips to simplify your personal finances and maintain more control over your money.

1. Go Paperless.

One of the best ways to streamline your finances is to eliminate or drastically reduce incoming snail mail, such as bills, account statements, and receipts. Every time you open your physical mailbox and see paper inside, make a note to log on to your online account or contact the merchant and request to go paperless, when possible.

Continually pare down what you receive each month and throw away as much existing paper as possible so you keep only what you really need. Not only does a paperless system save trees and many other environmental resources, but it saves your time and attention.

Going digital saves storage space in your home and keeps your documents safe from theft, fire, or water damage.

Going digital saves storage space in your home and keeps your documents safe from theft, fire, or water damage. But there are some vital paper documents you still need to keep and I’ll cover those in a moment.

When you receive paper documents that you can easily find online, such as a utility bill or an insurance policy, don’t keep them. After reviewing the information, destroy any document that contains personal information—such as your name, address, account number, Social Security number, and especially pre-approved offers for credit cards—with a cross-cut shredder that turns it into confetti.

Here’s a tip if you get a lot of junk mail for pre-approved offers of credit or insurance that you don’t want: opt out at optoutprescreen.com. This is the official, centralized site where you can choose to be removed from the offer lists provided by the major national credit reporting companies.

Even something good, like a paper check, could be direct deposited into your bank account instead. Some companies even charge less or offer financial incentives when you choose direct deposits or e-statements.

Remember that as you make the transition from paper to e-documents, you can always print out digital versions when necessary. And don’t wait to go paperless until after you deal with your existing paper. You can pare down your existing files later.

Just get started now with a zero-accumulation rule. Create a streamlined digital system that’s simple to maintain going forward. You’ll feel great about helping the environment, saving time, saving space, and cutting clutter in your home.


About the Author

Laura Adams, MBA

Laura Adams received an MBA from the University of Florida. She's an award-winning personal finance author, speaker, and consumer advocate who is a frequent, trusted source for the national media. Money-Smart Solopreneur: A Personal Finance System for Freelancers, Entrepreneurs, and Side-Hustlers is her newest title. Laura's previous book, Debt-Free Blueprint: How to Get Out of Debt and Build a Financial Life You Love, was an Amazon #1 New Release. Do you have a money question? Call the Money Girl listener line at 302-364-0308. Your question could be featured on the show.