How to Simplify a Financial Life

Many baby boomers are all about simplifying things, including downsizing and getting rid of stuff we don’t want or need. I am definitely in that category. As we approach retirement, the simplification process should include your finances. Money remains important but our time becomes more valuable.

I have some thoughts on how we can live the simple life in the world of finances and money.

Simplify Financial Paperwork

I dislike paperwork now more than ever. This includes papers related to our banking and investment accounts as well as financial solicitations from others. Information overload is counter-productive in many different ways.

To put an end to credit card and other financial solicitations in your paper and email boxes, try these services:

Junk mail: Call 1-888-5-OPTOUT and/or visit DMA Choice to reduce the inflow of paper junk mail.

Unwanted Catalogs: Catalog Choice is a site that allows you to opt out of receiving paper catalogs from over 1100 different catalog merchants.

Credit and Insurance offers: Visit OptOut Pre-screen to end unsolicited offers of credit and insurance for five years.

Email Solicitations: DMA Choice also has a service to block commercial email but again only from DMA members.

Looking at your own paperwork, these are some steps that I have taken that are probably available to you as well:

  • Request that monthly invoices and bills be sent to you electronically. You are going to pay them electronically anyway (I hope) so why not end the incoming paper as well?
  • Request that statements from bank accounts, retirement accounts, and investment accounts be provided only electronically. If you use Quicken or other personal finance software to manage and balance your accounts, there really is no need to have a paper statement sitting in front of you while you do it.
  • Shred and discard routine paper records. Who really needs to keep copies of old bills? Most health insurance companies have adopted electronic claims records as well.  If you are concerned, scan the really important ones and then discard.

The elimination of financial paper from your life is liberating. Try it.

Simplify Financial Accounts

Do you have multiple accounts for everything: banks, brokers, IRAs, even 401(k)s?

Get rid of some of those investment accounts. If you have 401(k) accounts left over from former employers, roll them into a self-directed IRA. If you have multiple IRA accounts, consider consolidating them into a self-directed IRA. This potentially gives you the following benefits:

  • More investment options.
  • Lower investing fees.
  • Easier to monitor asset allocations and to re-balance when needed.
  • Fewer accounts to monitor and to occupy your time and mind.

Use fewer bank accounts. Or at least use fewer banks. Find a convenient local brick and mortar bank for your day-to-day cash needs. Use an online savings bank for your long term, high interest savings and CD deposits. Most will make it easy for you to open and manage multiple accounts online, if you need them.

If you pay most of your bills online, or through a rewards credit card, consider using one of the local or regional banks that offer free high interest online checking. Many of those accounts offer higher rates than the large online savings banks. You can locate them using Checking Finder.

Final Thoughts in Simplifying Your Financial Life

I have worked hard to make things easier for us in managing our money. I have more to do. The word “simplify” has become one of my mantras.

When we are at the end, I doubt that any of us will wish we had spent more time with our financial paperwork.


Comments

  1. says

    “The elimination of financial paper from your life is liberating.” Amen. I’ve been trying to become as paperless as possible. While it’s freed up my space in my file cabinet, it’s having a detrimental effect on my scanner. I’m trying to justify a Fujitsu Snap Scan.

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