BeforeYourNext Birthday-DeniseFisher’s Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘Receipts’

Top 10 Financial Urgencies – Getting Your Financial Affairs in Order

Posted by denisefisher on November 21, 2010

All money matters are not of equal value, and while it would be nice to go through an orderly plan of reorganization in a standardized step-by-step plan, there are issues in your finances that need your urgent attention and can’t wait until they come up in the rotation. I have tried to speculate on the categories of imminent financial matters that should be at the top of the list for handling, and added specific issues that may apply to you. There may also be other issues that need your urgent action that are not listed below, but this listing should help prompt you and identify the financial matters that are screaming for your attention.

Print out this list, put stars next to any issues that apply to you, write your specific circumstances in the margins, or recreate your own personalized list to identify the financial tasks that need your immediate attention. I have arranged the categories below in what could be the general order of importance, but you know your circumstances best and can identify what issues bother you most. In any case, having that list is the start of creating an action plan, feeling a sense of accomplishment as you achieve your critical tasks, and experiencing peace of mind in knowing that your critical issues have been identified and being able to see what remains to be done.

Take care of these critical issues before getting back to your other financial planning matters.

 

1. Collect money that is due to you

  • Tax returns
  • Child support
  • Reimbursement by employer for expenses, tuition, travel, purchases, etc.
  • Returning recent unwanted purchases or damaged goods
  • Filing rebates
  • Filing insurance claims, warranty or service claims due to you
  • Collecting on personal loans to friends/family members
  • Claiming or cashing in on gift cards, uncashed checks, store credits (or giving them away)
  • Getting credits for billing errors, unfulfilled or unacceptable goods or services
  • Billing for services performed but not invoiced/charged/requested

 

2. Make sure you have cash flow coming in

  • Get a job (if you don’t have one)
  • Find additional work if needed
  • Sell things that you don’t need to bring in cash
  • Start any processes that are needed for getting financial support

 

3. Keep debt issues from causing further damage

  • Stop spending on any non-essential purchases or services (you know this already, but you may need reminding, and you definitely need a conscientious plan to address this if it’s an issue)
  • Avoid the use of credit cards, loans, and other financial fixes that only make matters worse
  • Contact those to whom you owe money and can’t pay on the original terms (whether it be a utility company, bank, credit card company, friend or family member); it’s better to address the situation and try to work out a solution than to ignore it and cause further damage to your credibility
  • Refinance mortgages, renegotiate credit card terms and loan repayments where you can and where it makes sense (consider any additional fees or other terms that may not be beneficial)
  • Do not raid your retirement funds or home’s equity without serious consideration of the penalties and financial losses, and even then, this option should only be done in a desperate situation (not to pay credit card bills) – this may require some serious research or outside consultation from a trusted source

 

4. Pay money you owe

  • Money that is past due, coming due, or needs to be addressed
  • Taxes due
  • Housing, Utilities, Auto, Insurance, Child Support
  • Medical expenses
  • Personal loans, maintenance fees, service charges, late fees, penalties, any payment issue that accrues additional fees from your inaction
  • Payment owed for goods or services delivered
  • Anything that involves a warrant, potential court case, collection agency, seizing assets, personal embarrassment
  • Traffic Tickets, licenses, registrations, other auto-related issues
  • Any other payment issues that bother you because you haven’t taken action or followed through (replacement of something you borrowed and then damaged or lost; payment of an item for which you were not charged, etc.)
  • If you are told that you owe money, but you dispute it, this may be the instance for you to put your dispute in writing and send it to where it needs to go – the idea is to resolve any debt issues that continue to hang on and cause you stress

 

5. Take care of critical repairs

  • Maintenance or repairs of plumbing, heating, cooling, doors & hardware, appliances, roofing system, electrical service, building structure, etc. that affect your security, safety, health, or prevents further damage from occurring (whether you own your home or rent)
  • Maintenance or repairs to your vehicle that can make matters worse if not attended to, especially if they can put your vehicle out of commission, affect your safety, or cause further damage
  • Maintenance or repairs that (though they may not be critical) seriously affect your quality of life, especially if it’s to the point that you are depressed or not fully functional, due to your living circumstances
  • Health maintenance, screenings, testing, prescriptions, etc., especially as they apply to your health history, preventive measures with good return (e.g., dental care), and procedures/actions that have long-range impact and affect your day-to-day living capabilities

 

6. Eliminate recurring expenses

  • Monthly, seasonal, or annual services you don’t use, don’t need, or could do without
  • Warranty/service coverage on electronics, appliances, utility services that are not beneficial
  • Low deductibles on insurance coverage
  • Features on your phone, cable that are wasteful expenses or excessive for your financial situation
  • Storage/rental costs – portable or self-storage units, garages, marinas, boat slips, and other places where you pay to keep vehicles, sports or recreational vehicles/equipment, furniture, personal items, collections, memorabilia, unfinished projects, items needing repair, and things you don’t know what to do with
  • Memberships that are not fully utilized or participated in
  • Magazines/publications that you do not read regularly
  • Expenses that you pay that should be paid by someone else (this can apply to parents who continue to pay expenses of their adult children, even when they are fully employed [or capable of financial responsibility]; or people who pay recurring expenses of other friends or relatives and find it to awkward to tell the beneficiary of their support that they want to discontinue their financial subsidies)

 

7. Eliminate bad habits that cause you to spend money

  • Gambling
  • Smoking, alcohol, recreational drugs, partying
  • Recreational shopping for clothing, hobby items, sports equipment, décor, tools, etc.
  • Bargain shopping for food, household items, clearance items or purchases that are a good deal, items with perceived collectible value, items for projects you intend to take up or complete, home improvement purchases that go unused, items bought to stock up supplies (but which are eventually thrown out or not used)
  • Spontaneous purchasing (especially under pressure or in social settings)
  • Social spending on restaurants, entertainment, sports, events & activities
  • Replacement purchases made to avoid dealing with lower cost repairs
  • New trend purchases
  • Convenience purchases, resulting from lack of planning (everything from ATM charges and bottled beverages to airport neck pillows and full-price tickets)

 

8. Prepare for upcoming financial deadlines

  • Avoid fees, penalties
  • Don’t miss financial opportunities (credits, rebates, returns, incentives, reimbursements, expense reports, income from sales, job opportunities, investment or purchase opportunities, grants, scholarships, tax deductions, credits, interest income, cash-ins, sales, bundling, advance payment discounts, advantageous actions that must be taken before tax year or tax filing deadlines)
  • Maintain credibility (and your credit ratings)
  • Protect your assets
  • Reduce stress caused by not having your finances in order (owing payments, having utilities shut off, accounts closed, garnishment of wages, collection agents, IRS dealings, liens, court filings, eviction, conflicts with friends/family members between whom money is owed, general financial anxiety)

 

9. Determine which financial (or financially related) issues are not worth acting on & officially let them go

  • Non-collection of personal loans you’ve made to others or financed on their behalf
  • Unfiled expense reports, claims, lawsuits, or paperwork to get money you are entitled to
  • Unreturned items with missing receipts, past the warranty or return deadline
  • Purchased goods or services that are not being used and still taking up space or incurring expenses
  • Holding out on the sale of a house, car, or other item you own that you think should sell for more money
  • Lost opportunities of any kind

 

10. Change your mindset

  • See yourself as a person who is financially responsible
  • Become conscious of your spending, your income, your savings, and your financial decisions
  • Realize that you need support from financial experts, and see yourself as a manager of your financial team (even if some of your team members are just authors, journalists, or economists)
  • Start watching, reading, and listening to financial news, trends, and advisories as if they affect YOU

 

Next Steps

Here’s what to start thinking about for next steps:

  • Identify your personal & specific issues that fall into these urgent financial categories
  • Make a list that summarizes all your urgent issues
  • Rank the urgent issues, using a rating system or prioritize them intuitively
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60 Ways To Save A Day Gone Wrong

Posted by denisefisher on February 12, 2009

A Day Gone Wrong Some days are better than others. Despite our best intentions to be productive, to be organized, to be mindful, some days just don’t turn out that way. We lack the will, the focus, or the motivation to get things done. Some days, it’s hard to even get started. What if you just don’t feel like it? After spinning our wheels and seeming to get nowhere, the day can start to seem like a total loss.

But wait. There’s hope.

If you had a list of Things To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do, you’d have options. It’s hard to come up with ideas – even simple ones – when you’re feeling overwhelmed or uninspired. On a better day, you can put together a list of your own. In the meantime, I’ll lend you some of mine. They’re simple tasks you can choose to do as an alternative when your best laid plans have gone awry. It’s a menu of “Plan B” options to salvage a day gone wrong. Even if you don’t regain your full momentum, at least you’ll get something done.

  1. Make the bed
  2. Wash a load of clothes
  3. Run the sweeper
  4. Water the plants
  5. Put away folded clothes
  6. Put away dishes
  7. Wash the sheets to hang out on the line to dry
  8. Polish shoes
  9. Clear off the table and set it for the next meal
  10. Clean the bathroom sink
  11. Check the mail
  12. Walk around the block
  13. Wash dishes
  14. Clear out & reorganize briefcase/backpack
  15. Sweep off the porch and steps
  16. Get clothes and gym bag ready for workout
  17. Clean the kitchen sink
  18. Walk around and inspect the outside of the house
  19. Pick up leaves, pine cones, and sticks from the driveway or yard
  20. Empty out the refrigerator crispers and reline with paper towels
  21. Clean out and organize the rest of the refrigerator or freezer or just a part of it
  22. Dust TV screens and computer monitors
  23. Clear off a flat surface – pick any one or more: desk top, entry table, night stand, dresser top, dining room table, kitchen counters, work table, bookshelf
  24. Straighten up and clean up the cat station and organize cat supplies
  25. Wipe out the inside of the microwave oven
  26. Empty the smaller wastebaskets around the house into the larger trash bag
  27. Find some junk mail, papers, magazines, expired paperwork to recycle
  28. Take out the trash or recycling
  29. Check your financial accounts
  30. Enter financial data for accounting into software program
  31. Inspect the condition of the car’s exterior (maybe check the tire pressure, oil & other fluids)
  32. See if there’s anything that needs to be cleared out of the car or trunk
  33. Vacuum out the car and wipe down surfaces
  34. Look through some storage space to see what you have and what might need to be done
  35. Chop vegetables, prepare lettuce for salad, or other food preparations
  36. Cook or bake something that will last for several days’ meals
  37. Check inventory levels and restock or add to shopping list, as needed (napkins, paper towels, TP, baggies, foils, wraps, trash bags, vacuum cleaner bags & belt, tissues, liquid soap, dishwashing detergent, laundry soap, stain treatment, bleach, household cleaners, refill water bottles, water pitcher, personal products, coin compartment in purse or car, checkbook, printer paper & cartridges, travel size cosmetic containers [shampoo, lotion, Q-tips, toothpaste, sunscreen, etc.], contact lenses & saline solution, light bulbs, batteries, birdfeeder, first aid kit, medications, vitamins)
  38. Take a power nap
  39. Do some type of personal grooming (tend to your nails, ears, feet, facial or body hair, hair color/length/style)
  40. Call your mother (or other deserving call recipient)
  41. Run an errand
  42. Go to the library
  43. Review your goals/personal mission statement/mantra
  44. Review your to do list
  45. Write and e-mail reply or a letter you’ve been putting off
  46. Clean one or more ceiling fans
  47. Clean the windows on the front door (and the finger prints around the door frame)
  48. Plan the details of a call you’ll make tomorrow – get the name, phone number, key points, and supporting documents you’ll need to have on hand
  49. Gather things together that you’ll need for a project you’re going to do tomorrow – set it up so that you’re ready to start
  50. Listen to an educational, inspirational, or informative podcast
  51. Clear your inbox
  52. Sort through some computer files and delete what you no longer need
  53. Meditate in a quiet space (possibly with some suitable music)
  54. Read something uplifting
  55. Ask someone else about their day, listen with empathy, and ask how you can help them out
  56. Send someone a text message or e-mail – out of the blue – to tell them something you admire about them
  57. Go to the yoga today website and do a yoga video
  58. Sort/organize/group/categorize … anything (bills or receipts to file, medicine cabinet, CDs or DVD collection, utensil drawer, spice cabinet, tool box, drawers of your night stand, jewelry or other accessories, stack of firewood or kindling, art supplies, lap drawer of the desk)
  59. Hold your baby (your little baby, your big baby, your sweetie baby, or your pet animal baby)
  60. Regroup and plan to get back up to speed tomorrow

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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 »