Whether you’re here because it’s the new year and you’re ready to get better with your money in 2023 or you’ve just hit an “I’ve had it” moment with your finances, hear this: You can change your actions and your outcomes when it comes to money—any time of year!
And a great way to get started doing just that is by getting more organized with your money. Think about it: When you get more organized at home or in the office, you cut through the clutter, put everything in its place, and create a plan for moving forward. The same is true with your finances!
So, let’s do this. Organize your money so you can have less clutter and more progress. Trust us: Following these nine tips will bring you more peace than the tidiest room or desk in the world.
Budgeting is our very first tip for organizing your money. Here’s why.
Imagine a room with things scattered all over the place. You know the birthday card you bought your favorite uncle is somewhere in the mess, but you just can’t find it. The thing disappeared, right?
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Well, no . . . but that’s what it feels like! And guess what, the same idea rings true with your money when you don’t have a budget. You know you made money, but you have no idea where it went.
Listen, a budget is a plan for your money—pure and simple. And when things feel out of control and all over the place with your finances, budgeting is the absolute best way to take control. It’s putting every dollar you make into a budget line and saying, “This is where you belong, and this is how you’ll work for me, thank you very much.”
So, if you don’t have one already—make a budget!
2. Have budget meetings.
And here’s how to make sure you make a budget every single month: Get yourself an accountability partner and set up regular budget meetings. At these meetings, look back on the previous month to see what was great, and what wasn’t so great. Then, look forward to make sure you’re including any month-specific expenses that could be coming your way.
If you’re married, you’ve got an automatic, built-in accountability partner! If you aren’t, find someone who will both motivate and challenge you through the year.
Don’t skip this. Accountability and routine are key to getting new habits to stick and making goals actually come true!
3. Track your transactions.
Ready for a big budgeting secret?
You have to track your transactions. All of them. When you make money, track that into your income. When you spend money, track that into the right budget line.
Your budget isn’t a robot vacuum. You can’t hit an on switch and forget about it. (Or maybe it is like a robot vacuum. Because if you don’t do a lot of work before you hit that on switch, you know it’ll suck up every doll shoe and Lego in the house.)
The point is this: You can’t just set and forget your budget. You’ve got to get in there and keep up with it. Know where you stand on your spending and keep things organized by tracking your expenses. All month long.
4. Have a miscellaneous budget line.
Even when you’re planning out your budget every month with the absolute best intentions, let’s face it—surprises pop up. Also we’re human, so we forget stuff! One great way to stay ahead of both of these truths is to have a miscellaneous line in your budget.
When your kid brings home a field trip permission slip and needs $25 to go to the local owl sanctuary, you can use that miscellaneous line. Or when it’s 3 a.m. and you remember you signed up to bring the apple pie to celebrate Pi Day at work, just hit the store on the way in and track the expense to that miscellaneous line.
It might be hard to spell, but the miscellaneous line is easily one of the best ways to keep your budget from going off track when things don’t go 100% according to plan.
5. Direct deposit your savings.
Here’s another helpful tip for organizing your finances: Set up a direct deposit for your savings! Now, this depends on what Baby Step you’re on—because if you’re busy paying off debt, that’s your financial focus right now.
But if you’re putting money away for your emergency fund or retirement investments, it makes life a whole lot easier if you set up a direct deposit. No moving money over (and maybe forgetting about it). Just a streamlined, organized process for getting ahead on your savings goals!
6. Pay your bills online.
Speaking of forgetting things, have you ever forgotten to pay a bill on time? And then had to pay late fees? Yuck.
Life gets busy—but setting up automatic payments for your online bills is a wonderful way to, once again, streamline your finances!
Just make sure you know when the payments will hit your bank account so you’ve always got enough in there to cover it all. You don’t want to pay overdraft fees. Double yuck.
7. Use the envelope system.
Have you heard about the envelope system? It’s a fantastic way to (literally) organize money. With the envelope system, you put cash for different budget lines in envelopes (or an accordion folder or a wallet with dividers—whatever works for you!).
You can see, right in front of you, how much is left for groceries after that Aldi run. You’ll know if you can afford brunch and goat yoga with friends, because you’ve got the cash right in front of you.
You don’t have to make an envelope for every single budget line (remember those autopay bills, for example), but it’s a fantastic way to keep your spending organized and under control.
8. Stop using credit cards.
Do you use credit cards to cash flow your spending? This is when you charge normal monthly expenses and then pay off the balance at end of the month. If so, stop. This is one heck of a poor money management system.
You might think you’re in the clear because you aren’t racking up interest, but you know what else you aren’t doing? Tracking where your money is actually going. So you’re still unorganized and you’re still not the one in control here.
Instead, make that budget—with the money you actually have. Right now. And track those transactions as you spend the money you actually have. Right now.
This will bring you so much clarity. You’ll see spending habits you didn’t even realize you had. When you pay a lump sum at the end of the month, it’s easy to ignore that daily triple bean burrito habit you’ve developed. When you track everything, your expenses can’t hide from you.
Take ownership of your spending throughout the month with money you actually have. Right now. Stop using credit cards.
9. Pay off debt.
Having debt is like running backward in a marathon—your goals are getting farther away every day. When you’ve got debt, you’re using a part of this month’s income to pay off a purchase from last month (or even last year or last decade). It’s hard to get organized and cover what’s happening now when your finances are living in the past.
Listen: Americans with credit card debt carry an average balance of $5,474.1 The average student loan debt per borrower is $39,487.2 And the average new car payment is $667 a month.3 This. Is. Heavy.
But there’s good news. You don’t have to keep going backward. You don’t have to keep paying for the past. And you don’t have to carry the weight of all that debt each month. Pay off your debt. Then you can start organizing your money to pay for your present—and building security (and even wealth!) for the future.
Organizing Money Starts Here
. . . with a budget. This is the first step toward organizing your finances. Hey, you work hard for your money—not even one dollar should get lost in clutter or chaos. You need a plan. You need to budget!
If you want this budgeting and money organization thing to get even simpler, use a budgeting app. We just so happen to have a free one called EveryDollar.
And know this: You don’t need a degree in finance to be good with finances. You just have to be willing to do what it takes. And you’ve got what it takes to get your money, and your life, in order. Start using these tips, and make it happen!
Take the First Step
Get your money organized. Start budgeting with EveryDollar!Get EveryDollar