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Drowning in a pile of bills, receipts and bank statements and don't know how to swim to the top? Organize Your Personal Finances In No Time will be your lifesaver. Written by a professional organizer and coach for the chronically disorganized, this do-it-yourself guide will show you how to create a fool-proof, easy-to-maintain financial system in a single day. Written in a unique step-by-step, to-do list approach, you will master skills such as tracking income and expenses, bill paying, creating a file system and shopping with efficiency. Then, learn to take all of your new skills and apply them to creating a savings plan, a budget and graphs to illustrate spending habits and debt details. When it comes to your finances, if the choice becomes sink or swim, let Organize Your Personal Finances In No Time help you swim.
I. CAPTURE THE NUMBERS.
1. Tracking Your Money.
Getting Your Mind Around the Task Ahead.
Arming Yourself with the Right Organization System.
Building a Fence to Snare Every Last Scrap of Your Financial Information.
Choosing the Gathering Place.
Tracking Cash, With or Without Receipts.
Recording Every Transaction, Even When You’re Rushed.
Creating an Income and Expense Tracking Document.
Laying the Foundation.
Setting Up the Income Section.
Setting Up the Expenses Section.
Seeing the Big Picture.
Managing Joint Accounts: A Five-Point Peace Plan.
2. Getting the Figures to Match.
Learning to Reconcile Your Accounts the Old-Fashioned Way.
The Basic Idea.
The Basic Steps.
Troubleshooting to Find Discrepancies.
Letting Your Computer Do the Work.
Financial Software Options.
Choosing and Setting Up Your Software Product.
Backing Up Financial Data on Your Computer.
Choosing a Backup Method.
Deciding Which Files to Back Up.
Storing Your Backup Disks.
Using a Disk-Free Option: Online Storage.
3. Avoiding Late Fees and Overdrafts.
When Time Flies, So Does Money: Finding a System for On-Time Payments.
What Makes This So Hard for You?
Are You a Sprinter or a Jogger?
What Has Worked in the Past?
What Do You Do Now to Finally Get It Done?
Doing Damage Control with “Safety Valve” Accounts.
Finding the Best Way to Pay.
Less Painful Bill-Paying.
Option 1: An All-Paper System.
Option 2: A Software-Based System.
Option 3: A Web-Based System.
Sticking with Your System.
II. CORRAL THE PAPER
4. Fighting the Data Deluge.
Incoming! Taking Control of Paper at the Point of Entry.
Step 1: Get Rid of the Junk.
Step 2: Put Financial Mail Where It Belongs.
Step 3: Pass on Others’ Mail.
Step 4: Put Magazines, Catalogs, and Packages Where They Belong.
Step 5: Deal with the Leftovers.
What about Incoming Paper from Other Sources?
Paperwork from Others in Your Household.
Dealing with Odds and Ends.
5. Here to Stay: Storing Documents for Easy Retrieval.
File or Pile? Choosing Paper Storage Options.
Piling Might Be Right.
The Best of Both Worlds.
Step 1: Divide Your Documents into Groups.
Sorting Out Documents for Frequent Files.
Setting Aside Other Groups.
A Quick Lesson in Categorizing.
Categorizing Is Better Than Alphabetizing.
Think in Terms of “Which Is Bigger?”
Use Your Own Words.
Keeping Categories Under Control.
Step 2: Subdivide Your Frequent Files Group into Categories.
Step 3: Label Your Folders and Start Filing!
A Neat Trick with Hanging Folders.
Filing Your Documents.
Step 4: Create Archive Files.
Separating Documents for Archiving.
Storing the Archived Documents.
6. Proving It’s Yours, Or Should Be.
Building Your Room-by-Room Files.
Gathering File Contents.
Listing Your Spaces.
Making Your Files.
Categorizing Room-by-Room Files.
Filing Your Documents.
Maintaining the System.
Creating a Property Inventory.
III. ADVANCED PROJECTS
7. Be an Organized Consumer.
No More Roaming the Aisles.
Reducing Bulky Catalog Clutter.
Becoming a Master Listmaker for More Organized Shopping.
Listing Things You Need and Things You Already Have.
Who Wants What: Maintaining Gift Lists.
Never Again Wonder, “Did I Get That?”
8. Learn More from Your Organized Data.
Calculating Your Personal Profits and Losses.
Getting In-Depth with Your Debt.
Taking a Close Look at Your Spending Patterns.
Do You Live Beyond Your Means?
Using Your Data to Organize a Budget.
Beginning at the Beginning.
Designing Your Budget.
Trimming Expenses Gets Easier.
The “Just Do It” Factor.
Use Your System.
Have a Home.
Be Organized Enough.
Appendix A: Further Resources.
Products and Services Recommended in This Book.
Data Management Products and Services.
Junk Mail Management Services.
Money Management Products.
Financial Information and Counseling.
Professional Organizing Information and Referrals.
Appendix B: Sample Finance Forms