One of the best strategies that you can follow take control of your money is to simplify your finances. Sounds too easy right? It’s a great place to start though as it will highlight all the “excess” you have in terms of admin, fees and stress.
I have a super light-weight and skinny wallet and in it is all I need. If it doesn’t fit in there then I clearly don’t need it. I do have a few more cards which I cannot get rid of, but I keep them aside and only carry them with me when I specifically need them.
Why does this matter? Well to me it’s a sign that things are organised and in control. You may not agree with that, and that’s okay. Personal finance is in fact very personal. But, in terms of finances, the more accounts and credit cards you have, the more fees you inevitably pay. And with that, the more companies you have to deal with. More payments and possibly more debt. It just gets confusing.
Simplify your finances with 4 steps:
One Credit Card
I only have 1 credit card. This was not always the case. I think I had 3 at one point. I remember having to fumble through my wallet to find the “right” card.
Think about how confusing it is to know what you can spend on which card because each has a different limit and payment cycle. And then of course, it is obviously far too easy to spend too much! Having all these cards available is just so tempting!
Note: Keep the limit low
I have set my credit limit far lower than what the bank has offered me and each year when they offer to increase it I simply decline.
This gives me peace of mind that my spending is in control. If I need a lot of money quickly I have an emergency fund available, or if it is a planned expense I simply transfer extra saved money to my card.
One Loyalty Program
Most stores, banks, credit cards, etc all offer their own loyalty program. These either come with plastic cards, apps or electronic cards to add on your phone. It’s great that they offer discounts and tailored offerings; but it does add a bit of complication to life.
I have chosen a loyalty program linked to my credit card and that is the only program I have signed up for. I may be losing out on savings at some places, but lumping all your “loyalty” into one scheme means bigger benefits on that specific program.
Whatever program or scheme you choose, just keep it simple and easy to manage. If you want to have multiple programs then at least do the challenge at the end of the article.
One Bank Account
I actually have a few bank accounts but my bank offers 1 main account and 4 linked accounts all for one very low monthly fee. On my baking app the accounts are are linked so it’s super easy to manage. I use these accounts for different savings.
It may sound as though I am ignoring my own advice, but I consider my linked accounts as “one” because they are so easy to manage and they incur no additional fees or admin.
The problem with having multiple accounts at various banks is that they generally come with an ATM card, an optional credit card, monthly statements, monthly fees, marketing emails, etc. Having multiple accounts just means that there is more to keep track of. You may have valid reasons for multiple accounts, and that of course is fine. As long as you have a plan and know why you have the extra accounts. As mentioned throughout, just simplify your finances as much as you can.
One Simple Budget
It’s easy to get excited about one’s budget and to add all sorts of confusing details. It’s not bad to have a detailed budget, but you also need an easy-to-remember summarized version.
I like to keep my budget really simply with no more than 10 categories and within that I know what is paid for by electronic bank transfers or debit orders, what goes on my credit card and what is cash. See how to keep track of payment types using a spreadsheet.
Having less budget categories makes it easier to remember.
I also have a “general” category on my credit card budget for all expenses that I have not catered for specifically. These vary every month but as long as I stay within my overall spend I am happy.
Bottom line is to keep things as simple as possible. Close redundant bank accounts, credit cards, debit cards, store cards, etc.
A challenge to simplify your finances
Jot down all the bank accounts, store cards, credit cards, debit cards, ATM cards, membership cards, loyalty cards, etc that you have. Also look for the electronic ones you have.
Look at what monetary value they have added to you over the past year, and decide whether you really need it. If not, you know what to do…