For those looking to get ahead financially, Leon LaBrecque, managing partner of LJPR Financial Advisors, has a few tips to get started on the right foot. Making small good choices now can set the tone for grander gestures later in the year, like saving for a child’s college fund or preparing for retirement.
LaBrecque suggests the following small good choices to get organized for a fresh financial start:
- Take a picture of your wallet contents, including your driver’s license, credit cards and all other important contents. Keep the photo in a safe place; there are smartphone apps that can do this.
- Create a monthly budget to track spending and plan for upcoming expenses. It can be simple or complex, but make sure it will work. A few ideas include using envelopes to distribute and spend cash only, linking your bank accounts and credit cards to an app that’ll track spending for you, or creating a spreadsheet.
- Set up automatic bill-pay or set reminders to avoid late payments. Simplicity is key with this tip. “We all have a certain amount of bandwidth for time, money, happiness and love. Paying bills is unpleasant and has a cost of time, postage and envelopes. Auto bill pay saves time and money, which bring happiness,” said LaBrecque. Just make sure you record the automatic transactions in your account.
- Make a list of all accounts, including passwords and pins. Each of us has a digital legacy. Having digital access available for those you trust means less headache when that fine print in the “I accept” forms comes into play.
- Put all of your important documents in a fireproof safe or safe deposit box. Make sure that someone knows where to find it and has access to the box in case of emergency. LaBrecque says, “If you don’t have a fireproof box, you can use your freezer. Put your papers in a Ziploc and toss them in the back of the freezer. Doesn’t stop a hungry crook, but works great in a fire. You can put money in there and get some cold hard cash!”
“Clearing clutter, whether physical like bills laying around or emotional like worrying about important documents and their whereabouts, can drain you and leave you less likely to tackle bigger goals,” said LaBrecque. “Studies show us organization is key to both less stress and greater capacity to make powerful decisions. These small good choices are the first steps to tackling a powerful mindset and eventually, your financial goals.”