Organizing finances 

Are you ready for organizing finances? This might not be your first thing to do when you are organizing your paperwork, home office space and filling system. But organizing finances is very important for anyone who truly wants to be organized.

Budgeting, Finance and Organizing – a match made in heaven

Whether we like it or not, simply by living in a society. We are in a financial cycle on a daily basis. A cycle in which there is incoming money, a need to use this money to create value in our lives, which means; there is outgoing money. Keeping tabs on finances, makes us captains of our own ship, more in charge and more organized in our day to day lives. 

Organizing finances - our limited resources

Finances are quite similar to time and space management, there is only ever so much of it and you will have to make do with what you are given. Irrespective of whether, you have bucket loads of money or only a few dollars to your name, you will need to manage it. 

One of the central concepts of organizing is that each item in your live needs a “home” aka a resting place before it gets used again. The same applies to money, you cannot let money just sit somewhere without stating what its “home” is. 

For example; out of your $1000, - dollars this week, maybe $25, - dollars is for your lunch and weekly coffees, maybe $200, - needs to go to your electrical bill, $500, - to your mortgage and $200, -  to your groceries, which leaves you with $75, - dollars that hasn’t been allocated to anything, aka, these dollars don’t have a “home” yet. 

Organizing finances - an analogy

An analogy to money, is say you have a clear dining table on the beginning of the week there is nothing on it besides $500, - in cash and a debit card with $1000, - dollars on it. The rule of this game, is that if you spend any of the money, this week. You will need to place proof of this purchase on your dining table. If you do not have a plan, then the most likely outcome is that in one week from now, your money will be gone. And potentially there is a whole pile of receipts and stuff you bought on the dining table, you probably won’t even know why you bought some things in the first place.  

Just like a clear surface is an open invitation to place homeless items on - unallocated money feels like a free ticket to the mall.

Organizing finances in a nutshell 

For all talk about finances and organization there are only two things you really need to understand:

For finances:

  1. Spend less than you get in
  2. Decided before hand roughly how you will spend the money you 

In organizing speak it would mean:

  1. Only buy and keep items you need and love
  2. Decide where these items will live in the spaces you frequent.

Organizing finances – YNAB

There are many programs out there, which can help you with your budget. You can start paper based, move to an excel document or look for online software. The latter option being obviously the easiest nowadays.

Now I am clearly stating I am biased here and I love the budgeting program YNAB

Have you ever heard of the term YNAB before? It stands for; You Need a Budget and is by far the best budgeting software I have ever come across. My mission and passion in live is to do things very well, very organized and if possible in the most efficient and effective way possible. I am one those people who actually enjoys doing the budget – however, not before I used this software. 

Normal software has you back track your spending make a budget based on last year’s income and expenses and then it will leave you. A lot of software or suggestions rely on excel sheets. Excel is a great program for projections, sums and potentially a budget, but it just doesn’t make it in terms of linking to your bank, being portable on your phone and creating ease of entry. (This is assuming you have no issues at all with creating the formulas in a program like excel).

All of this means that a week into your new budget, you are likely to be off track and that is if you still monitor your expenses. Not to mention excel or most other budgeting software doesn’t account for us blowing our budget on the occasion (and who doesn’t). Excel doesn’t account for human emotion or decisions which need to be made now for the future, and are not based on historical data.  

YNAB is different, it tells you to start as of today. Whether your finances are okay, good or not so pretty. Your situation doesn’t really matter, because you will work with the money you have and give “every dollar a job” – this is different but very similar to my organizing spiel in which I state you need to give “every item a home”. 

YNAB has been around for a number of years, it is fully integrated to sync with your actual bank accounts. At least with most of the US banks at this stage. If you are overseas, like me - you can download your statements and import directly into the software. This is still allowing you to reconcile your bank statement with what you entered on your phone while, you were out and about - actually spending your money. 

As an example: Whilst I have a cup of coffee down the road, I update my budget and when I get home to double check, the expense is already in my YNAB file, which was updated straight from my phone. Every week I also do a quick download from my bank account to sync and reconcile all the purchases during the week.

One of the slogans from YNAB, is that; “with YNAB it feels like you are giving yourself a raise”. Since using YNAB, I have had times that money was, plentiful and times it was tied. This tool allows me to know what I can and cannot spend on, as well as how I can change things if unexpected expenses do come up. It gives me a lot of freedom to utilize the money I have and change my spending based on my priorities and obligations at this point in time.

I could not even attempt to do justice on my website to this program and would strongly encourage you to have a look on their website. There is a vast number of Tutorials, written material and free interactive online workshops, which till this day, I still like doing occasionally - even after years of using their product.

The cost of organizing finances

Ironically everything comes at a cost, whether this is time or actual money so it is with organizing finances. Firstly, it will take a bit of time to set things up, to learn and feel comfortable. If you decide to go with the YNAB. They normally have a free 30-day trial* after which, YNAB becomes a yearly online subscription. It is however very affordable. I make the money of their yearly fee back in a month, simply by keeping a tab on my expenses and giving some of my dollars the job of paying this subscription. 

* If you use the YNAB link via this website you can get a 2 month free trail of this program.

Organizing finances in summary

So budgeting and organizing are closely aligned. It reinforces the idea there are boundaries to anything we have and work with, which is the same as with organizing. The magic happens, when you acknowledge this, work with it and create systems and routines to incorporate for example: organizing, meal planning and financial management as regular practice's.

If you haven’t started a budget yet start today.


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