When you think of your finances, what’s the first word that comes to mind? Is it a word that could be repeated to a toddler? Is it a phrase that is used when someone cuts you off in traffic? Or, is it a happy, peaceful word? If finances make you happy and peaceful, then yay for you! You’re pretty much the equivalent to a unicorn. You’re a benchmark which very few can reach.
For everyone else….let’s talk shop. Before you start getting into debt repayment, saving or investments, you need to know what your finances actually look like. How many credit cards do you have? What utilities do you pay? Do they fluctuate? How much do you make? These are all relatively easy questions, but, how many people actually know the answers? That’s why we’re dedicating our first post to organizing your finances!
Where do you begin? How do you organize your financial house? While we are still a work in progress, we have some helpful tips to get you started.
Collect ALL of your financial statements. This could be paper-based or online, but you need to collect the following:
- Utility bills (phone, internet, water, gas, electric, etc.)
- Credit Cards (most statements can be found through your online banking)
- Student Loan
- Car Loan
- Mortgage/rental agreement
- Any other bills
Once you have all of your statements you need to organize your debt and assets. First, organize what debt you have. You will need to find a method that works for you. Tolga is very high-level with his excel spreadsheets, while Lindsey keeps it simple. Here is an example of a table you can use:
|Credit Card/Bill||Interest Rate||Payment Due
|1. TD Visa||19.99%||May 1, 2016||$2,000|
|2. American Express||22%||June 20, 2016||$1,500|
|3. OSAP||9.89%||July 30, 2016||$10,000|
|4. Union Gas||N/A||May 15, 2016||$160|
Organize your debt by interest rate. You always want to pay off the credit card/loan with the highest interest rate. Look on your statements (either paper or online) to see what your interest rates are. We will have more tips about how to do this in an upcoming post.
Continue to list out all of your bills/credit cards until they are all in one table. Copy this one! Make up your own! Part of keeping it simple is organizing your finances in a way that YOU can remember. If Excel scares you, then use Word. If you prefer pen and paper – more power to you!
Figure out when your bills/loans/credit card payments are due. Once you have organized this part, either put it into your mobile or paper-based calendar. Do whatever works for you to help remember these dates!
See how much you owe. When Lindsey did this part, it made her cry. And by cry, we mean bawl. She had estimated what her debt was, but had grossly underestimated how much it was. If this is you, you may need to take a breather. However this is really important because you have to know how bad your situation is before you can get yourself out of it.
Start to work on an action plan. Now that you know which debt has the highest interest rates, due dates and amounts, you’re ready to start tackling that debt! Check out how in a future blog post.
This may seem super overwhelming….and it may seem helpless. But it’s not. We have faith you can dig yourself out of this hole and we are here to help! It took you a while to get into debt and it will take a while to get out. Now that you have your financial house in order, you’re well on your way!