After high school, your personal finances become complex. Then, after college, they become even more complex. With each additional milestone in life, your personal finances become more challenging to deal with – simply because there is more and more “stuff” to keep track of.
When you’re in high school, you might have a job and some spending money. This means a checking and savings account. Get to college; add in some student loan debt. After graduation, you get your first job, and now you likely start having investments, such as a 401k or 403b. Furthermore, you’re going to have more bills and expenses as well.
That’s why it’s so important to make sure you’re organizing and maintaining your daily finances.
1. Keep Everything Organized In One Place
The biggest challenge most people face is simply keeping everything organized and knowing what accounts you have where. But there are a lot of tools that can help with this.
Two of our favorite tools are Mint and Personal Capital. These are two personal finance tools that allow you to connect all of your bank accounts, investing accounts, and loan accounts (including student loans), and they update and sync automatically. That way, you can see all of your account balances, as well as any transactions, all in one dashboard.
This can save a lot of time and effort simply knowing where your money is. It’s also the first step in setting up a budget if you need to.
2. Setup Online BillPay
One of the biggest personal finance maintenance headaches is paying bills. That’s why you should automate and make it easy on yourself as much as possible. Most major banks offer Online BillPay free to customers. You should sign up and put all your regularly recurring bills into BillPay to pay automatically on time.
These regularly recurring bills include your rent or mortgage, car payments, and student loan payments. These are all bills that should never change, and you pay at the same time each month.
You should also put your other bills into BillPay, but you should pay them manually (not automatically). If you have bills that could potentially change, such as cell phone bills or cable bills, you want to review the bill first to make sure it’s accurate before sending payment.
3. Audit Yourself Once A Year
Finally, it’s always a good idea to audit yourself and your accounts once a year. Tax time is a great time to do this because you’re already looking at a lot of your personal finance information anyway.
The goal of the audit is simple – make sure all of your accounts are accurate, and your personal finance life is in order.
You should login to all of your accounts, make sure your address is current, and check the balances so that there are no surprises.
You should also take this time to review your credit report on AnnualCreditReport.com to make sure that you have no issues that you weren’t aware of. This simple financial check can go a long way to keep your personal finances healthy!