7 Simple Steps to Help Organize Your Finances

Ever think our hectic lives seem to be moving faster and faster, giving us less time to enjoy the things we want?  More time can often be found by taking these seven important steps to simplify and gain more control over personal finances.

  1. Simplify

When prospective clients initially visit, it is often surprising to see the volume of account statements they receive.  This not only makes oversight difficult, it also requires more of their time and energy to track.  One of the easiest ways to feel more organized with less time, to regain control, and to better manage investments, is to consolidate accounts onto a single Cash Management reporting platform.  This will generate a single monthly statement for all investment holdings, instead of receiving individual statements on stocks, mutual funds, insurance products, etc.  When considering which firm under which to consolidate, focus on those that offer open platforms (e.g. don’t push their own mutual funds or other products) and provide SIPC insurance ( Securities Investor Protection Corporation) which protects against a brokerage firm failing.  For more details see www.sipc.org.

  1. Consolidate Retirement Plans

Recent legislation now allows us to “roll” our pre-tax retirement accounts into a single IRA.  For instance, many have 401K plans still held at a former employer.   By rolling those into a self directed IRA (which can hold multiple investments), clients can more easily track their investments.  Plus, this greatly simplifies Required Minimum Distributions for those approaching or over age 70 ½.

  1. De-Clutter

While the IRS generally requires we retain records for 3 years (see http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/How-long-should-I-keep-records%3F), these need not be on paper.   Clients can free up filing cabinets and storage boxes by using a “cloud based” storage service such as Carbonite (www.carbonite.com).  This allows us to scan and store those documents electronically, then shred the originals.  Not only is the “cloud” secure, documents can easily be accessed from a computer or mobile device.

  1. Go Green

Additionally, most investment firms offer the ability to receive statements electronically. While the initial conversion may take some effort, the end result can save some time.  Well worth the effort, especially if a few trees can be saved in the process.

  1. Create a Budget

Often viewed as a “4 letter word,” establishing a “budget” to clearly see monthly expenses can be enlightening and empowering.    If there is a need to cut back, this process can help prioritize where to start.  If there is excess, clients may want to first consider maximizing their retirement plan (401k, IRA, Roth IRA, etc.) contributions and/or establishing an automatic savings plan to help assure they are paying themselves first.

  1. Insurance Review

Especially given changes in our life circumstances and insurance costs, it is advisable to review coverage every 3-5 years.  Children getting launched, mortgage balances declining, etc. all may reduce the need for life and disability coverage’s.  Also premiums can be reduced and reporting simplified by consolidating auto, home & umbrella coverage with one carrier.

  1. Create a Will or Trust

No one enjoys thinking about death, but it is an essential part of a responsible financial plan. Creating a will or trust can help assure the right people benefit from a lifetime of savings and also provide for a smooth transition to heirs.  Clients also should consider creating a health care directive and power of attorney that your wishes can be carried out should you become incapacitated.

For many planning and tracking your finances can be an arduous task. If you having trouble keep up then don’t hesitate to get some help. There are many experience tax, estate and financial professionals who can help create a financial plan to help you live a life well lived.

Uncertainty over the economy and financial markets has many people concerned about their financial futures.  For friends, relatives and colleagues who may find this information helpful, please feel free to share with them.  Remember, for those who could benefit we offer a complimentary, no obligation “Second Opinion” that can offer an objective financial review. Keep us in mind for those who may be seeking a wealth advisory firm like ours—one that delivers services according to the needs and perspectives of its clients.

This information is not considered a recommendation to buy or sell any investment or insurance and is being provided for information purposes only and is not a complete description, nor is it a recommendation. We strongly recommend an advanced tax and estate planning expert be contacted for further information since Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network LLC (WFAFN) does not provide tax or legal advice. Any opinions are those of Mitchell Kauffman and not necessarily those of WFAFN. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network does not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete.  Prior to making a financial decision, please consult with your financial advisor about your individual situation.  Investment products and services are offered through Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network LLC (WFAFN)/Member SIPC. Kauffman Wealth Management is a separate entity from WFAFN.

Written By

Mitchell Kauffman, Managing Director

Certified Financial Planner™

Mitchell Kauffman provides wealth management services to corporate executives, business owners, professionals, independent women, and the affluent. He is one of only five financial advisors from across the U.S. named to Research magazine’s prestigious Advisor Hall of Fame in 2010, and among a select list of 100 over the past 20 years.

Inductees into the Advisor Hall of Fame have passed a rigorous screening, served a minimum of 15 years in the industry, acquired substantial assets under management, demonstrate superior client service, and have earned recognition from their peers and the broader community.

Kauffman’s articles have appeared in national publications, and he is often quoted in the media. He is an Instructor of Financial Planning and Investment Management at the University of California at Santa Barbara and Santa Barbara City College.

For more information, visit www.kauffmanwm.com or call (866) 467-8981. Kauffman Wealth Management and serves clients from two office locations: 140 South Lake Avenue, Suite 307, Pasadena, CA 91101 and 550 Periwinkle Lane, Santa Barbara, CA 93108 (by appointment only).   Investment products and services are offered through Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network LLC (WFAFN).  Kauffman Wealth Management is a separate entity from WFAFN.