3 Ways to Organize Your Financial Records as a Responsible Mature Woman and Have Fun Too!
The last quarter of the year can become quite stressful, especially for those of us over 60. In some parts of the world, October is filled with more outdoor events with family and friends because the weather turns cooler while the sun is still generous.
November brings traditional Thanksgiving dinners, often with large family gatherings and lots of cooking. We buy more food and cook more, which results in higher utility bills. During December, many of us exchange gifts with family members, friends, and clients.
All of this will cost us more money than we spend in any of the other months of the year.
We love our families and want to be engaged with them, but most of us need to do it in a cost-effective way. If we plan ahead, the financial part can be managed. Here are some things to consider.
Tip #1: Organize Your Records Year-Round
Take time to organize your financial records year-round in ways that are fun, so that you will love doing it. Start by looking for the best organizer tools that will make your life easier.
If you are a ‘paper’ person, we suggest that you shop for a cool three-ring notebook in your favorite color, colorful 1-15 numbered tabs, and clear sleeves that can hold documents with several pages. (Estimated cost = $30 US for materials plus an hour of your time to shop.)
Just so you know, my favorite color right now is lime green and my notebook is so cool!
One three-ring notebook should last for an entire year. Label it on the outside so that you can find it easily. For instance, you could write: “Your Name – 2018 Records”. Set up your tabs to organize “Cash In” and “Cash Out.”
Tabs can be named for things like monthly bank statements, monthly credit card statements, important receipts, past years tax returns, a cash budget, real estate records organized by property address.
If you are a ‘digital’ person, set up these same tabs as a folder on Dropbox.com or on Google Drive.
To get you started, a sample Table of Contents for your tabs or digital folders is shown below:
- Bank Statements (including copies of cancelled checks and deposit information)
- Credit Card Statements
- Child Care Costs
- Transportation Costs
- Insurance Policy and Monthly Receipts
- Charitable Contributions Receipts
- Cash Budget – Current Year
- Retirement Account Statements and Contribution or Withdrawal Documentation
- Tax Return – Last Year and Year Before
- Income Records – such as Pay Stubs
- Medical & Healthcare Records – such as Explanation of Benefits, Invoices Received/Paid, Lab Reports
- Birth Certificate & Passport
- Property Deed and Real Estate Information – by Property Address
- Automobile, Other Vehicle – Titles and Other Information
- Calendar of Deadlines for Filing Taxes and Dates to Pay Bills
Tip #2: Annual Cash Budget
Prepare a cash budget annually for each month during the year. This is a tool that you can print to keep in your three-ring notebook (or digitally) to refer to from time to time. Your budget will help you stay on track so that you are able to sleep at night and not worry about finances.
I recall the year 2008 when I closed my coffeehouse. We had been open for five years and, although it was a lot of fun, the coffeehouse did not make a profit. At that time, I put together a monthly cash budget to manage “Cash In” and “Cash Out.”
I used a one-page Excel spreadsheet and printed a copy to carry in my purse. That way, when I did have money to spend and needed food, clothing, or gas for my car, I would pull out this one-page budget to help me prioritize what to buy with the money that I had.
This budget tool was a life-saver for me and it helped me save my personal credit also – by being able to pay bills on time, using my budget as a guide.
These days, I still use a monthly cash budget to estimate how much I will need to pay bills, when they are due and what amount should be left over for savings or to put back into my business. Your budget should include all “Cash In” and “Cash Out.”
Be sure to include necessities like food and medicine, plus auto repairs and gas if you own a car, or transportation costs. It should also include entertainment and planned discretionary expenses. (Estimated time to prepare budget = 1 to 3 hours annually and half-hour updates monthly.)
Tip #3: Use Event Calendars
Consider developing an Entertainment, Birthday, and Special Events Calendar to help you track all activities a mature woman must engage in. This will help you plan ahead so that you can manage your money and organize your expenses.
If you own a business in your 60s, this type of calendar becomes even more helpful. It will help you know how to plan your spending on activities that are sporadic as well as spontaneous.
Use these ideas to help you do what you love and enjoy what you do! Be blessed.
How do you organize your finances? Have you tried going at it on a monthly basis rather than doing it annually? What tools do you use to help you organize your finances? Please share any strategies that you find useful!