Last year, my word of the year was “enough”. I was frequently able to express gratitude for the things I already owned and realize how much abundance I had in my life. Overall, I bought fewer things and saved more money.
I also said, “enough” to many things that were not helping me build a better life. it involved giving up many physical things, but also ideals that weren’t serving me anymore. I was brave enough to directly confront difficult situations in my life and ended the year with more confidence and optimism for the future than when I started.
This year, my word is “simplify” and it’s exactly what I need this year. I’m going to simplify my life so that I can better focus on my true priorities.
Throughout January, I’ve thought a lot about what will be important to me throughout 2018. I’ve set a few goals, including financial goals, but mostly just set specific areas of my life that I want to simplify, along with an action plan. Many, many of these goals center around better time management.
Now that I’ve transitioned into the role of full-time working mom, never has it been truer for me that time’s not money, it’s life. While money is just one area of my life that I intend to simplify, it’s an important one! And hopefully one that will give me more time.
Minimize the Number of Accounts to Track
I realized while creating my money map detailing out my financial accounts that there are some significant improvements I can make to simplify my finances. This involves reducing the number of accounts that I need to track separately.
I currently have the following bank accounts:
- main checking
- main savings (linked to checking for urgent emergencies)
- online money market account
- online savings
- certificate of deposit
- personal spending account for me
- personal spending account for my husband
- FamZoo accounts for kid allowances (which includes 4 prepaid cards to track)
- 6 different credit cards (I use varying ones based on optimizing rewards)
- rental checking account
- business checking account
Although I am someone that enjoys managing my finances (and even budgeting!), as a working mom, I’ve found that it simply takes more time than I have to track everything.
So, my goal is to reduce my accounts to the basics over the course of the year. My plan is to end the year with only the following accounts:
- main checking (eliminating the linked savings and just keep an extra $1-2,000 in this account for emergencies instead the savings account that only earns .01% interest anyway)
- online savings account (keep the bulk of my cash here to maximize my interest earnings)
- FamZoo account for kid allowances and my own personal spending allowance (I love it so much, I just can’t give it up even though it requires a little extra tracking!)
- 2 personal credit cards, one for travel and one that earns 2% on all purchases
- rental checking account (still need to keep the rental expenses separate for tax and legal reasons)
- business checking account (still need to keep those business expenses separate for tax and legal reasons)
- business credit card (I’m actually adding one account because now that my blog is growing and I have more expenses, I no longer want to solely use a debit card)
I think this will save me at least 15-20 minutes each week not having to track as many separate accounts, go through as many monthly statements, etc.
Automate Money Even More
I’ve already made some steps to try to automate my money even more than I already do this year. For example, I’ve found that my daughter’s preschool will keep a credit care in my file and run it automatically each week. My cleaning service will do the same.
My goal for this year is to audit my finances to discover if there are any other things that I can automate. This already includes:
- Mortgage payments
- Credit card payments (I pay off my card each month so I check these statements carefully)
- Electric & gas bills
- Cell phone
- Auto insurance semi-annual payments
- Subscriptions that I know I will continue to use, such as YNAB, virus protection software, Dropbox, etc.
Being able to automate so many things is only a good idea because I’m meticulous about tracking each and every charge on my cards and through my bank accounts. I’m a huge advocate for tracking your expenses. It’s totally time well spent (and using a software that pulls in your transactions really helps a lot!).
I do make sure to look over each bill before the due date since I don’t want any enormous surprise charges that may cause my bank account to overdraft (it’s part of my YNAB budgeting process!).
While this saves me a significant amount of time, it saves me even more energy. I never have to worry about whether I paid a bill on time or make checklists and calendars of bill payments.
Track Day-To-Day Expenses More Often
I remember the days when my mom would write checks at the grocery store and immediately transcribe the check number, date and amount into her check register.
I don’t even write checks on a monthly basis, let alone have a paper check register.
But, I’ve found recently that it saves me a measurable amount of time when I sit down on a weekly basis to review my budget if I utilize the YNAB app on my phone on a daily basis. If I am able to record the transaction right away while I’m swiping my card at the checkout, it’s just a matter of quickly importing the transactions and ensuring it all matches up.
Basically, I’m hoping to get to the point where the vast majority of my transactions are input and categorized as soon as they happen and I have even less time that I have to sit down each week and go through all of them.
This would likely save me yet another 15 minutes per week.
Automate Financial Document Filing
I only just recently learned (from this great blog here!) that there are apps that will automatically pull in your bills and statements for you and save them to cloud storage. Right away, I had to try it for myself, and now I’m hooked. I mean seriously. If there’s something that doesn’t add value to your life it’s managing a bunch of papers.
I’ve already elected to be 100% paperless with all of my bills and statements (and lots of companies, especially mobile phone and cable companies, reward with discounts!). However, I was then spending quite a bit of time every couple months going to each website and pulling out the documents to save for my digital files.
Basically, a service like FileThis (not an affiliate, I just love it!) can automate the entire document filing portion of your financial management system.
Not having to log in to each individual company separately saves me at least another half an hour of time each month.
As I work on ways to simplify my life, starting with money is a logical choice for me because it’s something that I enjoy and know a lot about it. I’ve already seen the benefits even with small changes I’ve made.
And as I work to simplify my life in other ways as well, I’ll definitely be excited to see how much money it saves me in addition to time and energy!