Some of my clients are returning from visiting their aging parents over the Thanksgiving holiday. For some, it was an annual trek out of state. The holidays can be a wonderful time of year. Yet for some families it can be a wake-up call. If a senior is struggling with their independence, it may come to light during a family visit.
As a Daily Money Manager, I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about credit card debt and personal finance management during the holiday season. With the flurry of sales and other Black Friday specials, it can be all too easy to get caught up in a holiday spending spree.
We’re officially 52 days until the end of the year. With the holidays nearly upon us (actually some of my clients mark Halloween as the official start of the holiday season), it’s easy to let important paperwork slip. I’ve found that if you spend a little time before the end of the year organizing papers, it makes tax time easier and less stressful.
Last time we touched on spending plan surprises, those expenses that aren’t fixed and routine. Things like unexpected car repairs or special anniversary gifts that can derail your cash flow. This seems to be a great time to talk about building an emergency fund. Back before the economic meltdown, financial advisors recommended a reserve at least six months and optimally up to 18 months. For those of us who live in the Bay Area, we scoff at this seemingly insurmountable figure. Realistically, in light of layoffs and other employment challenges, many of us need this safety net when looking for a new position or transitioning into a new career.
Now that you’re fresh off the 7-Day Challenge, you’ve got a better handle on your spending. Last time we talked about creating an accurate spending plan, one that incorporates a realistic accounting of your income as well as costs. Fixed and routine expenses (like rent or mortgage payment) are easy to manage, but I find that my clients have a much harder time remembering and dealing with those expenses that vary or are sporadic. Spending plan surprises can derail your efforts toward living a financially organized life.
In a quest for a peace of mind as it relates to one’s finances, inevitably the subject of budget planning comes up. Personally I like to call it a spending plan because the term “budget” has such negative connotations. The last several months we’ve covered a lot of ground as it relates to getting organized. Freeing up your paper clutter is an important step. By now, everything should be filed in a place where you can easily retrieve it.
Now that managing one’s financial life online is mainstream — and heavily marketed by most financial institutions — many of my clients feel pressured to adopt electronic bill paying methods. Going against your natural financial management style is never a good idea.
As a Daily Money Manager I routinely help my clients achieve a specific financial goal: pay bills on time and create a system that’s easy for them to manage. In previous posts, I’ve talked a lot about reducing paper clutter, the chaos that typically surrounds organizing one’s personal and professional financial life. If you’re just catching up and your desk holds a mound of unsorted and unfiled paper, I encourage you to read those posts about gaining control before proceeding to this step.
As a Daily Money Manager, I help seniors stay independent and manage their financial lives. The senior population continues to grow in numbers. According to the American Medical Association, 78 million Americans turned 65 in 2010. That number is expected to rise by 3 to 4 million each year. Coupled with the largest recession in decades, some Boomers have had to delay retirement. The good news is that Americans are doing a better job paying down debt. Forbes reported that we’ve reduced our average credit card debt from $16,383 (March 2010) to $14,517 (March 2012).
Probably the most important habit of financial organization is maintaining your in-flow and out-flow systems. If you know how to handle each financial related tasks and their accompanying paperwork or electronic version as they come in, then it can’t pile up to a level where you are overwhelmed or feel defeated.