Benjamin Franklin once said, “For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.” Just imagine the time you can earn by organizing your finances. With a solid game plan, a budget and a little determination, you can whip your accounting, bills, and financial planning into shape. Here’s how.

  1. Establish a system. If you have shoe boxes upon shoe boxes of receipts and tax documents, and that’s been working for you, then stick with it. If not, find a system that does work for you. You’ll want to physically organize all of your paperwork into one convenient spot. This includes bank statements, credit card statements, investment information, tax documents, insurance policies, legal documents, wills, electronic passwords and more. If the thought of this is overwhelming, well, then you probably need it the most! Budget an hour a week for starters and take it one page at a time.
  2. Set goals. What do you want to save for? Your child’s college education? A wedding? An epic vacation? Figure out what you need to have in the bank and create a plan to get there. Open a savings account for that purpose and watch as you get closer and closer to your goal.
  3. Use technology to monitor your accounts in one place. There are a variety of free sites and apps available that will allow you to set a budget and stick to it, track expenses, keep an eye on your bank accounts and credit cards and more. By consolidating all these areas into one place, you can save time (and, hopefully, money). You can also use these sites to study where you’re spending your cash and decide if it’s time to cut some costs and ramp up your savings.
  4. Set up auto pay. If you’re one of those people who is constantly forgetting to pay your bills on time and then ponying up late fees to make up for it, you need auto pay. This is an option offered by many banks, billing, and financial websites. It allows you to stay on top of all that you owe and make payments when they’re due—without giving it a second thought. Just set a date for different payments and you’re good to go.
  5. Cash in your rewards. Do you have financial surprises hidden around the house and in your different accounts? We’re talking about airline miles, credit card points, unspent gift cards, in-store credit and even unclaimed property. Assess the situation and cash ’em in if it makes sense to do so.
  6. Know what medical expenses are in the pipeline. By organizing your finances, the goal is to cut down on surprises. Medical costs can come as a big surprise. Thankfully, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama has a treatment cost estimator tool that can help you plan ahead financially. To use it, log in to myBlueCross and search for treatments or browse medical conditions to find your healthcare concern. Then, you’ll be able to compare estimated costs for a variety of reasons, such as MRIs, hospital stays, office visits, surgeries, vaccines, x-rays and more.

Organizing your finances takes time, but what you gain in savings and insights will pay off in the end.