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I’ve shared before that my house often looks like we spend more time in CHAOS than in CALM. I’ll share more about how that applies to my house, but for today wanted to tackle why I am seeking to stop the CHAOS and gain control over finances. While I am writing this with the self-employed individual like myself in mind, it can apply to anyone who finds their finances in a mess.
Be prepared as it is about to get real and it might not be pretty……(note that links in this post may be affiliate ones)
What is CHAOS & why should I gain control over finances?
CHAOS….the dictionary defines it as “a state of utter confusion or disorder; a total lack of organization or order.”
While those of us with a creative bend might feel fine about the piles of papers all over the place, the reality is that we might be less interested in getting it all organized as rabbit trails for more interesting things appear.
Now, piles of ideas torn from magazines may clutter up the house. But, they won’t have the potential for long lasting negative effects. Piles of important papers just thrown together and stashed in a safe spot CAN and very likely WILL have a negative effect on our lives. That negative effect might be the need to spend more time sorting it all when we need a particular receipt or important document (like a child’s vaccination record.)
Ways that my propensity to avoid organizing my papers as they come into the house include:
missing rebates because I didn’t do them right away and either missed the deadline or lost something that was needed
late fees on credit cards
missed deductions on my taxes because I couldn’t documentation in time for filing
Considering I want to be a good steward of all I am given, seeking to banish CHAOS and gain control over finances only makes sense. A bonus is that optimal management of my finances should help us achieve long term goals as money that might have been lost can be retained instead.
3 Steps to banish CHAOS and gain control over finances
This is where you need to take your personality into consideration. What works for me may not work for you. However, I’m offering up my current approach which helps even though it is far from perfected.
Step 1: Sort and Purge Your Paperwork
Okay, this is NOT a fun step at all. I highly recommend finding music you love to play in the background to help you stay motivated. Or, spread out in front of the TV with a favorite show running in the background which you do not feel compelled to stare at in the attempt to avoid work.
Get a large surface space ready and drag over those piles of papers. Bring the garbage can or a bag to collect garbage on the spot, too.
I find that I can sort into categories rather than just a keep or toss pile approach. You can also decide if you want to sort by month of the year or by category. I like to use envelopes to hold receipts by the categories I need.
I also recommend doing this with the phone turned off and kids in bed or outside where they won’t bug you.
Step 2: Store Paperwork Where You Can Easily Access It
Now, those piles of paper might be in a place where I can access it easily. However, I can’t find what I need quickly. A file cabinet is the way most people approach storage of paperwork. For my business paperwork, I purchased an accordion file folder to use for the current year.
It has the ease of movement and storage while also providing enough space at this time to hold all of my receipts and other paperwork. The particular one I bought is already labeled by month, but you can always create new labels to group by categories if desired.
Step 3: Enter Income and Expenses Into a Tracking Program
Everyone has a different idea on how to do this. Some spend money on a program like QuickBooks while others use a simple spreadsheet. I purchased Quicken Home and Business edition, but my new laptop’s DVD drive isn’t working to install it right now. What attracted me is that this version will help you with determining business expenses and where they fall when it comes time for taxes.
In the meantime, I have been using a simple spreadsheet for income and another for expenses on Google Drive. I did receive a subscription to the program Taxbot with payment for a Jamberry consultant website plan. Friends who are higher up in the Young Living chain recommended it to me and they receive a discounted rate. If I wasn’t also affiliated with Jamberry, then I would have done the discount rate for Young Living. Now that I have it, I need to use it!
How do you approach budgeting and financial management?
Do you find yourself constantly losing receipts or other important papers?
For more finance-related topics visit a few of my favorite blogs: