January 8, 2009

Clean Your {Financial} House

If you follow Carrie over at Money Saving Methods {as I have been recently - her blog is an amazing resource of ways to not only save money, but to make money online}, you may have seen her Method Madness Marathon 2009 post today about getting organized. If you haven't, go read it here.

Organizing is important, but it's an activity that falls into Q2 (Quadrant Two):

Image courtesy of Keener Living.

Does that look familiar to you? It may ring a bell if you've ever sat down and thumbed through a copy of this book, one I have on my bedside and try to re-read every year or so:

Like Carrie mentions in her post, getting organized is no fun. All of us are busy busy busy little bees; dedicating a few hours over a couple of nights to get your paperwork, bills, spreadsheets, and online life in order doesn't sound too enticing.

This is one of my personal pitfalls, too; while I consider myself to be very organized when it comes to my kids, their stuff, and their schedules, I fall behind on getting all of our paperwork fully filed, stored, or shredded until it piles up (literally) into a paper mountain that looms over me.

But this year I am determined to stop the cycle of Q1 behavior when it comes to my financial organization. To this end, here's what I'm doing:

~ Downloading my friend Andrea's spreadsheet for tracking grocery spending and coupon savings from Google Docs. If you're serious about tracking how much you spend/save as a couponer, go download it, too. Google Docs rocks because it is totally free to use once you have a Google account (and if you blog on Blogger, you already do) and you can share your documents (like Andrea is doing - thanks!).

~ Creating my customized household budget spreadsheet in Google Docs by Friday of this week.

~ Slaying the paper dragon on my desk and in my file cabinets by pulling last years documents and storing them and shredding the non-essential financial documents and old bills (something I've done in the past; we moved two times in less than three years and had our third child during that time so I suppose I can give myself a break for falling off the organization wagon).

~ Creating a portable coupon file folder for my van.

~ Forecasting our variable expenses and documenting them in another spreadsheet, things like gift purchases, our kids activity fees, vehicle registrations, our two dogs' vet visits, home owner's warranty fees, home owner's association fees, etc. Rather than let these things creep up and grab my savings account, I want to have money put aside to cover them in advance.

That's my list for now; I'm putting it all down here both as a reminder to myself and as (hopefully) an inspiration for you. I'm hoping to get all these done before January 15 so that I can fully focus on preparing and collating our 2008 tax year information for our accountant.

Oh yes, you heard me right - we use an accountant. The fee is tax-deductible and if you ever have any problem with your tax filing, you can call your accountant and get advice on what to do. We got one of those always-ominous envelopes in the mail from the IRS in spring of 2007 shortly after we moved to our new home with my husband's (then) new job. I called our accountant, emailed him a copy of the letter, and - *poof!* - all was well a few weeks later.

Moral of the story: the fees you pay financial advisers, CPAs, and lawyers are well worth the cost, IMHO.

What are you doing - beyond basic budgeting - to clean your financial house this January?

Drop a comment and/or leave a link to your post if you've talked about it at your blogjoint; sharing info is what this blogging gig is all about!