Last month, we completed our dreaded trip to our accountant’s for our annual filing of our tax return.
I say “dreaded” because of all the receipts and paperwork I have to go through from the past year to make sure I have calculated all of our deductions correctly.
This year’s process was far less cumbersome, thanks to a purchase I made using last year’s tax refund — a handy document scanner that I now use to scan each receipt and piece of paper that I need to save.
I have everything saved by month and category on my computer with a back-up on our family’s Cloud account.
It takes just seconds to do each time I need to scan and save something and has not only helped streamline the process of finding receipts but has helped to ultimately declutter my desk!
Do you find your family finances to be in need of some simplification? I have compiled some simple living hacks to help you streamline your financial life so you can better monitor — and perhaps even make improvements — everything happening with your hard earned money!
• Streamline Your Banking Life: When my husband and I first got married, we had accounts at several banks.
We had his-and-hers checking and savings accounts, a spending account at a different bank that enticed us with one of those signing bonuses, another bank account for our mortgage and yet another for our insurance.
Keeping track of all of those statements — including monitoring them for unexpected charges or debits — got to be too much very quickly.
These days, we have all of our accounts with one bank and while we continue to keep some things separated, having them at the same institution gives us access to online snapshots that let us see all of our assets at once — and makes monitoring those accounts a much easier endeavor.
While I am not necessarily recommending that you consolidate those his and hers accounts, consider sharing the same bank to keep things simple.
Do a little research before you commit to a bank to bring those new accounts to — just make sure you are going with the bank that offers the best rates and customer service.
You may want to let your banks know of your plans — they might offer you some great terms to keep your business!
• Save a Tree: While you are streamlining your banking life, now is the time to get rid of all of those paper statements.
Most banks offer the ability to view and download e-statements from your phone or computer and you will save a lot of trees in the process.
Some great financial productivity programs can even import those statements to help you with your budget planning and tracking.
My favorite site,, links directly to my bank account and categorize my spending for me so I can see which areas I need to work on that month. Talk about crossing one thing off my to do list!
• Automate Your Wallet: While the world’s use of technology and online communication can be daunting at times, using the technology to simplify basic finances in your life should be a no-brainer at this point.
If you are not already taking advantage of direct deposit for your paycheck, you should talk to your employer about doing so.
Most employers can split your paycheck between multiple accounts so you can have a portion automatically allocated to a savings account because let’s face it, once you cash that paycheck, it is as good as spent, isn’t it?
While you are at it, go ahead and set up automatic payments or debits for all of your payment accounts such as credit cards, mortgages and insurance.
If those are automatically debited and accounted for, you are far less likely to forget to pay them — or run out of money to write that check!
That simple trick of automatically paying your bills — and linking those transactions to your mint or other budget tracking service — will save you time and worry each month! Talk about invaluable!
• Become a Minimalist: Years ago, I did this out of necessity — I had two young kids and a mortgage so any money we made went toward our mortgage, diapers, daycare and bare essentials.
While it wasn’t fun, we made it work — and I found that the things I used to spend money on were the same things that were cluttering my garage and attic!
Whether you are trying to save or not, consider a more minimal existence.
What does that mean? If I am allowed to be blunt, that means, quite simply — stop buying crap you don’t need.
The less burden you place on your wallet will lead to less stress overall — and you will find that the less clutter that surrounds you will create a more peaceful existence!
While you are putting the credit cards on ice, go ahead and plan a spring cleaning day to declutter from those past spending indiscretions — I promise you, a less cluttered living space will give you so much happiness!
(Editor’s Note: Kristine George is a freelance journalist who resides in Easton.)