BeforeYourNext Birthday-DeniseFisher’s Blog

Get fit, get organized, & get your financial affairs in order

Posts Tagged ‘Credit Cards’

Getting Your Financial Affairs in Order – Where to Start

Posted by denisefisher on October 21, 2010

Financial Plan There is one main reason why people do not have their financial affairs in order: it’s easier NOT to do it. It’s a task that can be overwhelming because there’s no instruction book, no deadlines, and no starting point. And everyone’s situation is different.

So, right here, right now, I’m going to create a starting point, put together a customized instruction book and action plan, and establish deadlines and timeframes.

The Starting Point – Choose a Model and Built on It

I am using the Suze Orman’s Action Plan as a starting template for my project of getting my financial affairs in order. Another resource that I like is Dr. Lois Frankel’s book Nice Girls Don’t Get Rich. By using these books as guides, I can write out a list of financial categories, add more specific tasks, and put together topics that will be used in my plan of action. So my starting point is to identify what is in the plan that will make me feel that my financial affairs are in order.

Put Together a Customized First Draft List

I started by just listing everything financial that came to mind (either from reference sources, or my own experiences), focusing on things I knew I needed to include for organizing my financial affairs. Consulting the suggestions of experts will help you identify the financial issues you haven’t thought of or don’t know enough about. I used the Table of Contents from the above mentioned books as my first source for identifying financial issues to put on my list. I could skip some of the topics that didn’t apply to me, and I could add other items that came to mind as I read through the contents. I know there are lots of other resources out there with helpful guidelines, but it would be easy to get bogged down in the research behind putting together the BEST plan ever. And I don’t want to do that. This is not a one-time project, and I will revisit this plan later, as situations change, and I have the need to add financial tasks to my list. For now, I will keep things simple, and start with the basics. Here are some of the categories and various items I came up with to start:

  • Credit
  • Retirement
  • Saving
  • Spending
  • Investing
  • Real Estate
  • Additional sources of income
  • Insurance
  • Net Worth
  • List of all assets, debts, accounts, terms, beneficiaries
  • Credit reports and FICO score
  • Bill paying procedure
  • Estate Planning
  • Will
  • Revocable living trust with incapacity clause
  • Advance directive & durable power of attorney for health care
  • Updated list of beneficiaries
  • Tax planning
  • Emergency savings
  • Payback strategy
  • Purchase plan
  • Maintenance/repair/remodel/replacement plan
  • Inventory documenting all possessions
  • Insurance assessment (including Long Term Health Care)
  • Financial goals (and integration with other life goals)
  • Timely financial follow-ups
  • Eliminate recurring costs, avoiding penalties
  • Tax planning, record keeping & filing
  • Paperwork management
  • Electronic financial record keeping
  • Maximizing income
  • Not giving away time, services, or reimbursable expenses
  • Leaving money on the table
  • Borrowing/Debt policy
  • Financial review plan

Next Steps – What, Where, and When

At this point in the process, I started to run out of steam for what I needed to do next – which is to put the list into some kind of order. It took me about 3 hours to put a first draft list together and write it all down. But I also realized that there were next steps that I needed to identify before stopping for the day. I needed to identify what the next task was (organizing the list), including the “where and when” of doing that next task.

Creating a standard default “where and when” for this activity as a project that is repeated on a weekly basis is a good practice. Even when there are interferences that call for skipping a week or implementing an alternate plan, having a “Plan A” to return to provides the structure and continuity most likely to help me stick with this project for the long haul.

“Where”, was relatively easy for me to determine. I have two identified work spaces (depending on which location I’m in) where I know I do my best financial work. I don’t usually have to worry about interruptions from others, though when I have had this issue to deal with, my preferred “where” has been the local library reference room.

The “when” is trickier – things come up which can make it difficult to keep an appointment with myself (including my motivation and momentum, which is not to be overlooked). I first think of how long I will need (and how long I can stand) to work on and complete the next step. Usually two hours is the maximum tolerance level for staying focused on one task, non-stop. But I will allot three hours, because I will also need to write down what I’m doing, and I think it’s realistic for me. I’d like to connect this task with my weekly viewing of The Suze Orman Show, which is on Saturday nights at 9 pm (and which I follow with an hour of watching another financial show – Till Debt Do Us Part, which comes on immediately following Suze Orman). But I know I’m unlikely to be in the mood to work on my project at 11 pm on a Saturday night. So, I will plan to work on this task Sunday, from 11am – 2pm. In preparation for this timeframe, I will make it a point to do some pre-project planning on Wednesday at 7pm. There will be no defined length of time for this planning task – simply reviewing the information I have, and doing any additional work that I feel like doing will be the goal. To summarize, here are my next step details:

· Task: Organize the List

· When: Sunday, 11 am – 2 pm

· Where: My designated work table

· Pre-planning Review: Wednesday, 7 pm

Motivational Task: Watch The Suze Orman Show, Saturday, 9 pm; followed by Till Debt Do US Part at 10 pm.

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What’s In Your Wallet? 10 Steps To Put Yours In Order

Posted by denisefisher on February 9, 2009

The 2009 Identity Fraud Survey Report was announced today by Javelin Strategy & Research. Their report said that identity fraud last year increased 22% from 2007. But the majority of these identity thefts were not due to online activity. Low-tech theft (or losses) of wallets, checkbooks, debit or credit cards were the most frequent sources of stolen identity and related fraud.

But this writing isn’t about about eliminating crime. It’s about personal organization and financial management. It’s about knowing what’s in your wallet. Purses, messenger bags, backpacks, briefcases or other carrying cases which hold your identification, money, financial cards and other valuables are even more critical, because they can hold even more of your treasured stuff. And if you carry them every day, you start to accumulate even more stuff and you don’t even remember what you’re carrying.

Do you know how much money you have in your wallet at this very moment? If your wallet were stolen (or if it fell over the side of your yacht) and you had to replace its contents, would you be able to recall everything inside? This may seem like a trivial topic in the overall scheme of financial management, unless you find yourself in the situation of having to deal with a lost or stolen wallet or purse and its contents.

Another reason to consider what’s in your wallet, however, is the simple issue of awareness. The same way in which you must be aware of each handful of snacks you consume, when you want to reform your eating habits, you must also become conscious of your daily financial transactions if you want to transform your financial habits. And, of course, the efficient handling of all those receipts, bank slips, and other cards and papers that fill your wallet has an effect on your financial management as well as your overall organization. Each aspect of your finances and personal organization that is in order contributes to the larger image of how “together” your life is.

When you’re starting out on a financial organization journey that may seem overwhelming, it helps to start out with smaller, manageable tasks that are easily doable and quickly completed. So here’s my 10-step plan to organize your wallet or purse and its contents.

Wallet-Purse Reorganization - Before

1. Empty out everything from every compartment. (As a documentary type of option – or if you’re preparing a blog post – spread out the contents onto a table or floor surface and photograph the entire collection from overhead.)

2. Brush out lint, fuzz, and debris from interior sections of your wallet or purse (use an old toothbrush, Q-tip, vacuum cleaner attachment or whatever) then use a damp cloth or paper towel to wipe off surfaces.

3. Purge the contents of trash, expired cards and coupons, and set aside receipts and other items you don’t need to carry with you in your wallet or purse.

4. Gather together all the cards you carry (driver’s license, work ID, membership cards, bank ATM cards, credit & debit cards, grocery, restaurant, and retail merchant gift, discount, or bonus point cards, medical/health insurance cards, auto insurance cards, library cards, etc.), lay them out on a color copier and make a photocopy. Then turn them over and copy the backs. Make sure you can read the account numbers, and the phone numbers to call in case the card is lost or stolen. If you can’t get a legible copy of the fine print, hand write the info in the margin of the print-out, where you can read it. File this copy with your other important documents. You may even want to have more than one copy for filing in more than one location. Remember, you’ll need to be able to find this copy if you need it.

5. Sort out the remaining contents into categories (cash, coins, checkbook, stamps, calculator, small notepad and pen, coupons, claim tickets, punch or scan cards, hygiene/cosmetic items, medical/health items, gum/mints, spare key, back-up cash, personal/business cards, grocery list, library receipts, receipts for purchased items that need to be returned or adjusted, etc.). Some organizers suggest removing cards, receipts, coupons, etc. that you don’t use on a regular basis, but I think it makes things very inconvenient – you have to store the items somewhere else, remember where “somewhere else” is when you need them; you have to coordinate the details of your errands and their associated cards/receipts/coupons etc. in advance, and if you just happen to be at the store where you need to have the associated items, you’re going to want to have your card, coupon, or receipt with you – right then, when and where you need it.

6. Survey the items you plan to return to your wallet or purse, noting what may be missing or needing action and replace or restock as required (a pen that works, sufficient number of checks, good mix of coins, meds, etc.).

7. List anything you need to do or buy, based on your wallet survey (e.g., go to the post office for stamps, buy a pill box, pick up dry cleaning, renew your library card, etc.). And while you’re at it, check out the condition and suitability of the purse or wallet you’re using to see if it’s functional for you and your lifestyle. If your wallet or purse has a smooth leather surface, you may even want to polish it, like you would a nice pair of shoes. You can figure out if your purse or wallet can use or needs a cleaning or treatment product (or some other minor repair). This is just a reminder for you to consider it.

8. After assessing the contents and available compartments, mentally designate what goes where. Anticipate the receipts, coupons, business cards, and other papers that will again start to accumulate, and assign an appropriate place/compartment for them.

9. Put the contents into their designated places and savor the accomplishment of having reorganized your purse or wallet. (This would be the point where you would take that “after” photo.)

10. This final step is an important one that mustn’t be omitted – put away any of the receipts, cards, etc., that are not trash but are not going back into your wallet either. Items with a designated home are more easily dealt with. But if you don’t have a designated destination for these items, take a few minutes to create one that you will use “from now on.” But make them easy to find and easy to use or they won’t be functional and it will defeat the purpose.

Wallet-Purse Reorganization - After

I did this process myself, in order to document the actual steps and determine how long it would take. It took me much longer to write this post than to clean out and organize my purse. I started at 1:10 pm and finished at 1:50 pm. 40 minutes total, including the photocopying and photographs.

The photo to the left shows my reorganized purse,  along with a stack of receipts and some expired insurance cards that need to be filed elsewhere.

Posted in Finances, Organization, Spaces & Things | Tagged: , , , , , , | 5 Comments »