5 Steps to Organize Your Financial Life

by Sophia Bera on November 13, 2013

Just because I’m a financial planner doesn’t mean I’ve check off all the items on my own financial “To Do List.”  I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed by the mounting businesses and personal financial tasks that I have on my plate and I decided that if I’m feeling this way, maybe some of my readers are too.  Here’s what I do when I’m feeling overwhelmed by financial tasks and don’t know where to begin:

1.  Start with a “Brain Dump”

Sometimes there are so many things floating around in my brain that I need time to organize them but I can’t start organizing them until I get them all down on paper or into my computer.  Take 15 minutes and right now and write down all the random thoughts floating through your head.  (Here’s 15 minutes of relaxing meditation music to listen to while you complete this task).  These tasks are taking up valuable brain space that’s cutting into your problem solving ability.  I just did this and there were 51 items floating around in there.  (Note to self: I need do this once a week so I’m not so foggy).  Got this idea from the book, Getting Things Done by, David Allen.  If you haven’t read it, add it to your kindle now.

2.  Create a List of Simple Financial Tasks

Gather all of your financial tasks from your “Brain Dump” and and put them in one spot where it is easy to review them.  Try to organize them by phone calls, emails, errands, etc. so that if you have 15 minutes to spare, you can look at the list of phone calls and make one or two of them.

3.  Create a “Projects” List

Anything that requires more than one step goes on your “Projects” list.  Turn each project into a checklist of tasks that need to be done to complete the project.  Add the next step of the project to your list of simple financial tasks.

4.  Set up a Weekly Calendar Reminder

Once a week, dedicate 30 minutes to reviewing your financial tasks and checking off at least one item from your list.  Tasks may include: closing an old credit card, pulling your credit report, setting up an automatic transfer to your savings?  These are all tasks that need to get done and take time.  It’s discouraging to do them all at one time and here’s the lesson: you can’t do all your financial tasks in one day so stop beating yourself up.  Financial tasks sometimes take weeks or months for a company to process a rollover from your old 401(k) to your new Rollover IRA.  It’s important to stay on top of these task and you need to create a system in order to do so.  In your calendar reminder, note the task or tasks that you completed that week.

5.  Track Your Progress with a Monthly Review

Once a month, carve out 60 minutes to review your financial progress.  This means you look back at the weekly calendar reminders from that month and list the tasks that you accomplished.  What items did you check off your list?  Does anything need to be added to your financial tasks list?  This is also a great time to review your budget or monthly spending plan.  How did you do?  Are there any areas that you want to try to cut back on next month?  Some people use this time to track their net worth as well.  Your net worth equals your assets minus your liabilities.  If you’re looking for a basic net worth spreadsheet, I like this one from MoneyUnder30.com.  Remember, what gets tracked, get’s done.  Stop beating yourself up for not having everything perfectly organized.  Start scheduling time to complete those pesky financial tasks each week.  Aim for just one item per week and you’ll complete over 50 tasks in a year!  Now that’s progress!  You’re now ready for Building Financial Security for Gen Y – Laying the Groundwork.