1. Gather all your paperwork.
Pick up an accordion folder at the Dollar store or Dollar Tree (Legal Size). Create a tab for each of the following:
• Chequing accounts
• Savings accounts (if you don’t have one get one, it’s free)
• Credit card accounts
• Loans (Student loans included)
• Personal lines of credit
• Rent or Mortgage (keep all you rent receipt and your least agreement)
• Insurance: life, disability, health, critical illness, home, car
• Tax returns (keep at least 5 years’ worth)
2. Internet banking
If you don’t already have it, set up telephone or internet banking for your accounts.
3. Setting up a buffer
If you can afford it, transfer $250 float to your chequing account (pretend it isn’t there) and use it as an overdraft for your account.
4. Pay yourself first
Figure out how much money you should have at the end of the month, then take that amount out of your 1st or 2nd paycheck. Therefore, the only funds in your account our for bills and food/gas. Take half of the saved amount and put it in an account that you cannot access with your bank card. The other half you can put in your savings account.
5. Create a Monthly Bill Summary
List your bills in the date order they need to be paid to prevent you from missing a bill. If you have bills that are paid automatically from your account, write an “A” beside these bills and remember to deduct them from your Spending Journal at bill payment time each month.
6. Set-up your in-baskets
Create an in-basket with two Bills folders labeled “1-15” and “16-31”
When a bill comes in, look at the due date and put the bill it in the appropriate folder. Don’t forget to pay it! I find that it’s simple when I put reminders in my cellphone or on my computer.
Weekly to do
7. Make a date with your money
On the 12th and 28th of each month to pay bills, set aside the time in your schedule – you’ll need about 20 minutes, depending on your bills — to pay your bills.
Always pay your bills in one place that you’ve equipped with your bill paying system, recycling bin for all that marketing stuff you’re going to dump.
When you pay a bill, write the cheque or transaction number, amount paid, and the date you paid it on the bill. Put the paid bill in your “bill’s paid” file. Deduct the amount you’ve spent from your Spending Journal. If a bill has not been paid in full (tax bills are paid over several months, for example) put it back in your Bills Folder so you don’t forget it.
Monthly to do
8. Reconcile your bank statements
When you bank statements come in, put them in your in-box folder. Make a date when all your statements are in (it’ll depend on when you receive them) to:
1. Review your statements to make sure there are no mistakes
2. Reconcile your Spending Register; clearly mark the cheques that have been returned to you and highlight the ones in your Spending Register that haven’t yet cleared the bank. A cheque that is taking a long time clearing the bank can lull you into thinking you have more money than you do. Go back at least a month to make sure all previous check have cleared.
Once a quarter, file all your paperwork to keep your system current.
10. Re-vamp your budget
Review your budget using last years cc statements and bank statements to see what you actually spent. If you spent more on a category, make sure you know why, or look for ways to trim.
Go through your files at the end of each year and throw out bills and receipts no longer needed for auditing/budgeting purposes.
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