I hope you had a Merry Christmas. My family and I are finally home after a week away. We had a wonderful time visiting with our parents, but it feels good to be home. My wife spent most of the afternoon yesterday cleaning out our kids’ closets, making room for their new toys. I’m working hard to get ready for 2009, and I’m taking several steps in an effort to simplify our finances.
Updating Inventory of Financial Accounts -
I’ve spent a few minutes updating my inventory of financial accounts. This single-page document serves two purposes. First, I use it to keep track of all of my account names, account numbers, and account passwords. Second, if something were to happen to me, my wife would have easy access to all of our financial information. Read more about the Inventory of Financial Accounts and print your own copy.
Opening Education Savings Accounts -
As soon as I publish this article, I’m going to open two new education savings accounts, one for my son and one for my youngest daughter. I opened an ESA or my oldest daughter a couple of years ago, and I actually printed out an application for my son’s ESA a few months ago. I’m actually thankful that I didn’t open the account at that time, because I’ve decided to go with Vanguard instead of my original choice, TD Ameritrade.
Consolidating Budget Categories -
I have been using the You Need A Budget financial management software for quite some time, and I am very pleased with it. This year, I’m trying something a little different. I am going to consolidate several smaller budget categories into just a few larger categories. At this point in my financial journey, I have broken the habit of overspending, and I want my budget to be a tool, not a burden. By consolidating, creating my budget will take a little less time.
Scheduling Automatic Contributions -
As soon as I open the education savings accounts, I plan to schedule automatic contributions to all of my after-tax retirement and education savings accounts. In the past, I liked to manually enter my contributions, as a way to keep my head-in-the-game. Now, after almost four years, I’ve moved past the need to micro-manage every detail of every transaction. In the words of the info-mercial, I’m going to set it, and forget it!
Organizing Financial Documents -
I recently purchased a fire-proff safe and my wife and I are using it to store our marriage certificate, our kids’ birth certificates, our social security cards, and our wills. Tomorrow, I’m going to go through several of our financial documents, and organize them for tax time. I need to sort though last year’s documents and receipts, just to see if their are any pertinent tax-related documents. I also have a retirement-specific form that I need to update for my employer.