Depending on your financial situation, in the last few months, you may have spent hours — or days — reviewing what you’ve earned, spent, and saved over the past year in order to prepare your tax return. With all of your financial data at your fingertips, now is the time to get organized, streamline expenses, and set yourself up to simplify your financial life in the year ahead.
First, cut down on the clutter. Do you really need that bulging file drawer of receipts from the past 10 years taking up valuable space in your home office? Probably not. Use Women & Co.’s “Scan, Store or Shred?” guide to determine what you can toss — and which paperwork you should keep.
Next, go digital. Use online personal finance management tools that link all of your accounts to give you a holistic view of what you’re making, spending and saving. Citi® Financial Tools, for example, offers free ways to easily track expenses, create monthly budgets, set alerts and bill pay reminders, and give you a clearer picture of your cash flow. The more you know about how your money is coming and going, the better equipped you’ll be to meet your financial goals and stay organized throughout the year.
Download your bank’s mobile app. Don’t waste another minute waiting on hold for a customer service representative — you’ll have a record of all of your deposits, your debits, and your balance at your fingertips so that you can access account info, make transactions, and manage your money wherever and whenever you need it. For more digital timesavers to help you streamline your household finances, check out these money management apps to help to keep track of both big ticket items (like investments and loans) and smaller, day-to-day money issues (like household spending) with ease.
Get rid of unnecessary fees. Take a look at your full year of spending to determine when and where you’re more likely to pay extra on fees or charges that you might be able to eliminate. If you’re like the majority of respondents to a recent Citi survey who admitted to paying a bill late, consider a card like theCiti Simplicity® Card, which won’t charge you a late fee, annual fee or penalty rate — ever*. Or if you’re having trouble remembering to pay your utilities on time every month, set up automatic bill pay to avoid late payments from these companies.
Sign up for rewards and loyalty programs. There’s no reason you should be a frequent shopper and not get the most out of every penny. Take a look at your 2012 expenses and make a list of your most frequently visited retailers and the credit cards you use most often — then make sure that you’ve signed up for rewards or loyalty programs for each. The more you consolidate your purchases, the more opportunity you’ll have to rack up points — and the more rewards you’ll be able to reap.
How do you simplify your financial life? Check out Women & Co. for more everyday money tips to put yourself in control of your finances and stay organized throughout the year.
*Introductory rate of 0% for 18 months from date of account opening on purchases and for balance transfers, 18 months from date of first transfer. Balance transfers must be completed within 4 months of account opening. After the introductory period ends, the standard purchase APR will be applied to unpaid promotional balances and new purchases. The standard variable APR for purchases and cash advances is 12.99%, 17.99% or 21.99% based on your creditworthiness. Minimum interest charge – $0.50. Fee for foreign purchases – 3% of the U.S. dollar amount of each purchase made outside the U.S. Cash advance fee – 5.0% of cash advance amount. $10 minimum. Balance transfer fee – 3.0% of balance transfer amount. $5 minimum. New cardmembers only. Subject to credit approval. Additional limitations, terms and conditions apply. You will be given further information when you apply.
Women & Co., a service of Citi, is the go-to personal finance source for women. By providing financial content, commentary and community, Women & Co.’s mission is to get women thinking and talking about personal finance. Founded in 2000, Women & Co. is one of the longest running personal finance websites dedicated to helping women strengthen their financial futures.