Whether you're dealing with divorce, widowhood, or are simply ready to take control of your finances and start developing your own personal financial plan, a financial organizer for women can be a great place to start.
With a financial organizer, usually in the form of a spreadsheet, you can create a system to track income, expenses, assets, liabilities, personal information, important documents and much more.
What is a Financial Organizer?
Simply put, a financial organizer is a tool that puts all your assets, debts and financial data in one place. Financial organizers are generally available in two types: a paper financial organizer is essentially a specialized ledger that has you write in the information you find on bills and by calling your creditors and banks. A digital financial organizer can have a few more bells and whistles and can add accounts simply by signing into your account through the organizer. You can use an online financial organizer like Mint or download a Microsoft Excel-based organizer like the one below.
Regardless of the type of organizer you select, it can serve as a way to get a sense of your overall financial picture like what you owe, what you have in the bank, where the money you spend goes, and thus, helping determine where you are financially right now and where your finances will take you in the future.
What Are the Benefits and Drawbacks of Each?
Paper organizers are best for those less than comfortable with computers, or who have fairly simple finances. Even if you're not comfortable with math, it's pretty simple. You just find your statements and write in the information, and then use your calculator to add up what you've got. The downside is that there's nothing automatic about it. What you track is up to you, and they're a little less flexible than digital organizers.
Digital financial organizers are generally based on websites and apps, such as Mint, and are generally good for those who want a more granular look at their finances, or have unusually complex finances. You can also connect your accounts to the organizer directly so that they'll automatically update as you cash checks into your account and make purchases. However, they can be difficult to use for those who aren't comfortable using computers.
What Should I Put In My Financial Organizer?
The more complete your view of your finances, the easier it is to make decisions and spot areas where you could make adjustments and improvements. Especially useful is the yearlong view you can have; seemingly small purchases like coffees and take-out dinners can add up quickly, and give you a sense of where you might need to cut back.
However, I would caution you against letting your budget dictate your spending and your lifestyle. While it's smart to live within your means and set aside part of every paycheck for your emergency fund or longer-term savings, I believe it's important to strike a balance between being well prepared for the future while still enjoying your lifestyle today.
Sure you can save money by skipping your daily Starbucks. But if you really enjoy your Starbucks, there might be better ways to adjust your spending and savings patterns. Many people have a tendency to "major in the minors" when it comes to their personal finances. I think a better approach is to address the bigger decisions that will have the most impact on your financial lifestyle today and in the future.
Where Do I Find a Financial Organizer?
There are several available online, which are totally free, and can either be used as free computer programs or printed out and used by hand. What's ultimately important is less which tool you use, and more that you're using something to help you get and stay organized. Financial organizers are tools that give you the most useful item you can have when it comes to your finances; a clear understanding of what money is coming in, where it's going, and what you have to work with. From there, you can make informed investment and spending choices, and take control of your financial future.
Getting your personal finances organized is a great first step in taking control of your money, gaining more confidence and living your best life. Organization is a solid foundation on which to begin building your financial plan.