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10 Ways to Simplify Your Finances and Stop Stressing About Money

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Figuring out how to simplify your finances would be pretty sweet, right?

I mean, money can be a huge headache. So if you could make dealing with it easier, then why not?

When you simplify your finances, you can save time. And even better, you might save some money too.

Sign me up for both, please.

Between running a freelance writing business and blogging and being a mom, I don’t have a lot of time to worry about money. And of course, I want to save whenever I can.

So I’ve learned to take a “less is more” approach to my finances.

And you know what?

I get more results than I ever did when I used to spend hours a day crunching numbers.

Less money stress = more time to grow my business, hang out with my kids and focus on what’s most important.

And if that sounds good, then you might want to try the same thing with your money.

10 Things You Can Do to Simplify Your Finances And Save Time

simplify your financesAccording to a Varo Money survey, 30% of Americans say they’re constantly stressed about money. Eighty-five percent of Americans are somewhat stressed about their finances.

I don’t want to be one of the 30% or even the 85% and I’m sure you don’t either. I already have enough to deal with and you do too, right?

These 10 tips are designed to help you simplify your finances so money is one less headache you have to deal with.

1. Automate your bill payments.

Putting your bills on autopilot does a couple of things for you.

First, it helps you avoid paying bills late.

Late payments are a pain because you can get hit with a late fee when you don’t pay on time. Even worse, a late payment to a credit card or loan could hurt your credit.

A good credit score matters if you need to borrow money and you don’t want to get denied for credit or end up stuck with a higher interest rate.

The other benefit of putting your bills on autopilot is that you don’t have to worry about them.

I’ve got most of my bills set up to be paid automatically out of my checking account. All I have to do is make sure I’m depositing money into the account before those bills are due.

Pro tip: Keep a buffer in your checking account. I keep enough in my checking to cover all my bills for one month just in case a client is late paying an invoice or a check gets lost in the mail.

2. Automate your savings.

Saving money is one of my favorite things ever. I get really excited each month when I see the balances in my retirement account and savings account grow.

If you’ve struggled to save in the past, you might just need a little help getting into the habit. That’s where automating can be your best friend.

When deposits to savings are automatic, you know the money you want to save is going to get where it needs to go.

You’re a lot less likely to spend the money you planned to save if it’s coming out of your checking account automatically every payday and going straight into savings.

You can automate your retirement and college savings too.

Since I’m self-employed, I don’t have a company 401(k) I can use to save. Instead, I park my retirement savings in a SEP IRA.

I make regular deposits automatically each month to my account, and I bump up my savings with extra deposits every few months through the year. I do the same with the 529 accounts I’m using to save for college for my kids.

The great thing about automating your savings is that even small amounts of money add up over time.

If you have to start with a $10 automatic transfer from checking to savings once a week, then so be it. You can work on raising that amount gradually and in the meantime, you’re growing your savings cushion.

3. Track your spending.

It’s hard to simplify your finances when you don’t know what you’re spending. When I was first learning to budget as a single mom, this was something I struggled with big time.

Eventually, I realized that if I wanted to get ahead, I needed to track my spending so I wasn’t clueless about where my money was going.

Tracking your spending is important if you want your budget to not be a total failure. A budget is really just a plan for managing your money and it has two sides: the money coming in and the money going out.

When you’re conscious of what’s going out, it’s a lot easier to stay on budget. And you can find potential budget leaks that might be money wasters.

There are a few ways you can track your spending but I think the easiest way to do it is to let an app do it for you.

You link your checking account and credit cards to the app; the app records your spending so you can see at a glance where your money went. Easy peasy and all you have to handle is the initial account set up.

If you need some recommendations for budgeting apps, Rosemarie Groner (aka Busy Budgeter) has a great post to check out.

4. Set up banking alerts.

If you’re not using banking alerts to simplify your finances, you are TOTALLY missing out.

Alerts can tell you exactly what’s happening with your money without ever having to log in to your account.

My bank offers several different alert types but the one I use most often is the new transaction alert for my checking account. It’s a simple way to know when scheduled bill payments post, deposits are credited, transfers are completed and new debit transactions hit my account.

You can also set up low balance alerts to let you know if your checking account could use a top up. This one’s really important for avoiding those oh-so-expensive overdraft fees.

If you use a credit card for spending, you can flip flop it and sign up for high balance alerts instead.

This way, you know how close you’re getting to your credit limit. You can also set up credit card alerts to let you know every time there’s a new charge on your account.

I have this alert set up for all my credit cards, even the ones I don’t use regularly. This actually paid off last year when someone hacked one of my cards and made a cash advance at an ATM.

The alert hit my inbox two minutes after the transaction was completed and I was able to get in touch with the credit card company and shut the card down before they could do any more damage.

Having these alerts in place means I don’t have to waste time monitoring my account or poring over statements every month.

5. Go paperless.

Before paperless statements came along, I was drowning in paperwork.

I had this huge file box that I kept all my paperwork in: bank statements, bills, tax forms, pay stubs — you name it. If it had anything to do with my finances, it went in the box.

I did this for years and eventually accumulated a huge stack of useless paper because I could never decide what to keep and what to throw away. And any time I tried to find something, I had to spend time sorting through it all.

A few years ago, I decided to ditch the paper trail for good and go digital. With the exception of my internet bill and my mortgage statements, I get everything — bank statements, investment statements, bills, tax forms — electronically.

It’s so much easier to check statements or bills online than it ever was to manage that mountain of paperwork.

And I feel good about wasting less time and less paper to manage my money.

simplify your finances

6. Stick with one bank.

Half of Americans have accounts at more than one bank.

I admit I have more than one savings account but they’re all at the same bank. (I keep an account just to pay my taxes and business expenses that’s separate from my personal accounts.)

If you’ve got checking accounts and savings accounts scattered here, there and everywhere, you could just be making it harder on yourself to stay on top of your money.

Moving all your money to just one bank can simplify your finances and the job of keeping tabs on your balances.

If you’re moving all your money to one bank, do your homework first. Look at:

  • The kind of accounts the bank offers
  • Any fees you’ll pay for checking or savings accounts
  • What kind of perks and features you get with your account
  • The interest rate you can earn on savings
  • ATM locations and how conveniently you’ll be able to get to your money
  • Customer service and the bank’s overall reputation

If you don’t have a lot of time to spend comparing banks, I suggest using a site like MyBankTracker to review different options. (I write for them so trust me, they know their stuff when it comes to banks.)

7. Stick with one credit card, too.

Credit cards can save you money if you’re using them to earn cash back or other rewards but they can quickly become your worst nightmare if you end up with a bunch of debt.

When I was in the early days of single momdom, I had several credit cards I was trying to pay off. I swore I would never let debt pile up on them again once I wiped out those balances.

It took a year or so but eventually, I paid them off and I stopped using credit cards cold turkey for a while. But then, I decided to give them another try only this time I laid down a few ground rules first.

I committed to charging only what I knew I could pay off in full every month and I decided to only spend with one card. I’ve been using this system for a couple of years now and it works great.

The card I use earns rewards and it doesn’t have an annual fee. I don’t ever worry about paying interest because I always pay it off each month.

Sticking with one card keeps things simple for me, which is what I’m going for with my money.

When you’re looking for a catch-all card, check out the rewards of course but also look at the fees and interest. If your goal is to simplify your finances, the last thing you want is a card that’s only going to cost you money.

8. Cut out the small stuff.

Something I’ve learned over the last few years is that it’s not the big things that blow my budget to pieces.

It’s the little things — smaller expenses that I don’t really think about — that throw my finances out of whack.

So I took the proverbial red pen to my budget and eliminated things like:

  • Recurring subscriptions for online video games (courtesy of my kids)
  • Monthly account fees for homeschool websites that we rarely used (I blame myself for that)
  • Streaming movie and TV services we just weren’t watching
  • Subscriptions to magazines that I never got around to reading
  • Monthly cloud storage service I was paying for that I didn’t actually need (Hello OneDrive!)

It was basically a bunch of insignificant little crap that was junking up my budget. Getting rid of these little expenses might seem like nickel and dime stuff but it can make a real difference in your budget.

9. Consolidate expenses.

Can I just say that bundling is a godsend if you want to simplify your finances and potentially save some money?

You can bundle things like your cell phone, internet and cable TV service together. My internet provider offers a discount for combining two or more services on a monthly bill.

You can also bundle things like your car insurance and homeowners or renter’s insurance. The sweetest part about bundling (aside from the potential savings) is that you can go from having several bills to pay each month to just one.

The bundling concept can also be applied to your debt.

Back when I had credit card debt, I combined all my balances onto a single card with a 0% APR using a balance transfer. I also refinanced my student loans and combined them into one big loan with a new servicer.

In both cases, I was able to cut down on the interest rate for my debts and streamline the monthly payments. I was also able to put more money towards the principal each month thanks to the lower rate.

Both those things helped me fast track my debt payoff and worry less about my money.

10. Uncomplicate your money goals.

Goals are a great motivator to take control of your money but it’s possible to have too much of a good thing.

If you’re setting big goals for your finances, that’s awesome. But if you have 10 or 15 goals to keep up with, you could just be setting yourself up to miss the mark on all of them.

Every December, I set two to three big financial goals that I want to achieve for the next year. Usually, those goals revolve around three things: saving, paying down debt and increasing my income.

I make my goals specific and realistic, then I focus on just those three things. If I hit one of my goals for the year early, then I replace that with a new one.

It’s a basic system but it’s worked for me. Over the past four years, I’ve paid off a $24,000 car loan in 15 months, saved over $250,000 and grown my income to multiple six figures.

If you’re struggling to gain traction with your financial goals, try scaling them back a little and focusing on just two or three things that are most important.

Giving a smaller number of goals your full attention and effort could deliver better results than trying to do a dozen different things at once.

simplify your finances

Simplify Your Finances Today for Less Stress Tomorrow

If you want to simplify your finances, remember — it doesn’t have to be rocket science.

Just making small changes like these can make a huge difference in how you manage and relate to your money.

I’m not a financial expert but I’ve put each and every one of these tips to the test. All of them have helped me get a lot more zen about my finances and I want you to feel the same way.

What are you doing to simplify your finances? Hit the comments and tell me about it. And remember to grab your free Budget Bundle!

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Hi there, I'm Rebecca, homeschooling single mom of two. I built a six-figure freelance writing business from home and now I teach people like you how to start side hustles, build profitable businesses online, manage money and be more productive! Follow me on Pinterest and Twitter and don't forget to check out the Resource Library--it's packed with tons of free tools to help you manage your money, business and life!

Comments

  1. These are really great tips – the automated savings is one of my favourite things. I started doing this a little while ago to build up my tax free savings account, and I honestly forget I have money going there because I don’t even see it or have to think about it happening, so I don’t miss it! Then, when I need to dip into savings for a trip or bigger expense, there is a little nest egg there. Budgeting is my number 1 most difficult task though. I always try and can never keep it up. I’ve even tried some apps like You Need a Budget, but couldn’t stick to it. I would like to check out Mint, but I am also always weary of security issues with integration apps… hopefully I’ll figure it out some day! Might go back to the old fashion envelope approach.

    • Automating does make your life so much easier since you can save without any effort. Budgeting is such a simple thing but it’s so hard to get right! I’ve tried lots of different systems, including the envelope system. That worked for me for a while but now I’m more or less cashless, which I’m not sure is a good thing or not :). My system is gradually moving towards charging everything to one card and paying it off each month, something I only recently have developed the discipline for. Keep trying different things, eventually something will stick!

  2. I have struggled with being on a single income (my husband’s) for so long now. I waas on active bedrest for my pregnancy and had my baby in February.

    It’s rough to be analyzing our financial habits and trying hard to make changes for our future.

    I enjoyed this post and got a few good points I hadn’t thought of yet so thanks for sharing!

    Liked and followed.
    Loving Life, Lee

    http://Www.LovingLifeWithLee.com

    • I’ve been a single income household for four years now and in the beginning, it was ROUGH! It’s scary when you’re trying to get a grip on your money after a major change. But I think just doing small things, like automating or cutting out the tiny stuff in your budget can make a huge difference. You just have to keep trying different things to see what works. Congrats on the new baby! 🙂

  3. Great tips! I started using a spending tracker a few months ago and it was a really great practice. I had to discipline myself to put in every penny i spent or earned. Automating all bills look great too!

    • Tracking your spending makes such a difference, especially if you’re trying to get in the habit of saving. I’ve put almost all of my bills on autopilot and it makes things so much easier too. It’s just so much less stressful trying to keep up with your money when you have these kind of systems in place.

  4. These are some really great tips! I definitely need to put my bills on automatic withdrawal I’m constantly forget when the minor things are due. 🤦🏽‍♀️

    • Hi Ashley, automating is great isn’t it? It’s so much easier to simplify your finances when there’s less to do! I’ve put almost everything I can on autopilot except my water bill because it isn’t available and it never fails, I always forget about it.

    • You’re welcome! 🙂 And yes, eliminating small expenses can go a long way when you’re trying to streamline your money management.

  5. These are great tips for getting finances in order. I try to do auto payments on everything, it makes it so much easier. We also went through and got rid of random subscriptions. No need to spend money on them if we aren’t using them.

    • Hi Amanda, automating is super helpful. I’m about to do a subscription audit and purge a bunch of stuff — we have way too many streaming services that we don’t need. The whole point of switching to streaming was to cut out cable costs but they’re slowly eating up more of my budget. Thanks for stopping by!

  6. These are fantastic tips! Not the run of the mill ones that are in every other article about living on a budget and simplifying finances. I particularly love the one about setting up bank alerts! I have done this recently and it’s fantastic!

    I wanted to add, we just started banking with a bank called Simple. It’s an online bank that has zero fees and is set up to function like a digital envelope system. You can budget right there in the app. You can set goals and expenses and even customize them by changing the color and adding images (this came in handy for a savings goal we’ve been working towards! We put an image up that kept us SO motivated!). They also have great articles on the site about budgeting, saving, and managing finances. Best bank I’ve ever used!

    Thanks for sharing practical and REALISTIC tips that busy moms can really use to make saving and managing finances simple and easy.

    • Thanks Amy! Money is one of those things where it’s easy to recycle the same tips so I always try to come up with something new or different people may not think of right away. Bank alerts are awesome — they’re such a great way to monitor for odd transactions or track spending. I’ve definitely heard of Simple and you’re right, they’re great. They’re one of a handful of banks that’s trying to do something different in the financial space to make it easier for people to simplify their finances. 🙂

  7. So I’ve recently started automating my savings….it is such a great feeling knowing that no matter what there will always be money put aside each month without me having to remember or say-maybe not this month.. I also locked that account so we can’t touch it even if we want to, and that was a great decision!!

    • Automating is the way to go, for saving money and for paying bills. It’s so much easier to save when you don’t have to think about putting the money away. And locking your account is a great idea! That way, you’re not tempted to spend on something that’s not really an emergency.

  8. This post is really helpful for me. Some if the points I am already following.
    No or only one card, this is really important.
    Tracking our spendings is also very important.
    You have explained each and every point very well.
    Thank you!

    • You’re welcome Vanesh! Tracking your spending is really essential for managing your budget and streamlining your finances. And using more than one card can just get confusing if you’re not tracking your spending because then you lose track of where everything’s going.

    • Thanks Chris! Simplifying is always great, whether you’re doing it with your money or something else. Focusing on one thing is the best way to be productive.

    • Going paperless is great! It’s good for the environment and there’s less junk for you to sift through when you’re trying to manage your finances and stay on top of the bills.

  9. Seriously, automating things and paying bills online changed my life. Going paperless and having the company email me when I am due=no more late payments and late payment fees. The one thing that I could maybe cut out is that $4 daily Starbucks, although that seems a bit over the top!

    • Automating is great, right? I always forget to pay my water bill every month and it’s because it’s not on autopilot. And I don’t drink coffee but I have my own version of Starbucks, in terms of small expenses I don’t cut out.

  10. Great suggestions! I think one of the biggest things anyone can do to get their finances under control is simply to start tracking their spending. Knowledge is power.

    • Thanks Britt! Tracking your spending is definitely important for managing your money. The more you know about where your money is going, the better you can control it.

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