Chapter One: Money, Communication, & Happiness
Before you can move forward with a new financial strategy for your life, you need to be financially organized. Sometimes the roadblock to making financial change is a lack of organization. Everyone’s financial life consists of giant paper trails and e-records. You might wonder why financial organization is under the topic of Emotions and Money. The reason is that many timesaving, unorganized or under-organized financial informa‐ tion is often caused from fear. It’s easier to avoid the situation if you don’t take a look at it. Ignorance is not bliss in this situation. Financial ignorance actually causes you more stress. Financial organization is not budgeting, and because so many people are afraid or don’t like budgets, they choose to avoid all types of financial organization. In this chapter, we’ve given you tools to easily get organized.
Being organized gives you freedom!
Being organized cuts down on stress so you can focus on actual financial management. Two types of organization are required:
- the physical organization of papers and electronic records, and
- the organization of your financial data and information.
The physical organization of papers and electronic records
These are the paper or electronic records we find at home or work, in our bags and briefcases, on our computers, and in our billfolds. They include a listing of your vital documents as well as your account numbers, passwords, and personal identification numbers (PINs). These statements and records are the sources of our core financial data, and they demand a simple filing system.
A word about the electronic world: In recent years, new technology has trans‐ formed how we conduct our personal financial affairs. As you opt to do more of your financial transactions on‐line, a new need has emerged: how/where to record and how to keep all of those website account numbers and PINs.
Think carefully about how to protect the privacy of this information, but at the same time, think about how the information might be needed by someone else should something happen to you. You need an electronic reference list, but you should be cautious about where you keep it and with whom you share it. Since this is very new territory, be sure that the information will not be open to snoopers. Keep up‐to‐date firewalls on your personal computer, and be very cautious about how you share sensitive financial information with others.
Remember to keep track of all the types of electronic accounts that you use: checking accounts, brokerage accounts, retirement accounts, credit card accounts, bill‐paying services, credi‐ tors, on‐line stores you order from (yes, even eBay!), free subscriptions to financial newsletters, frequent flyer accounts, and other types of accounts. Sooner or later, you will forget an account number, log‐in name, password, or PIN, which will be frustrating and cause you to lose a lot of time recovering from your memory lapse if you haven’t kept the information in an easily‐accessible but secure mode. You may wish to investigate secure, web‐based sites that specialize in storing log‐in names, passwords, and PINs in a safe, encrypted manner. These sites require you to remember only one log‐in name and password. And always select passwords/PINs that are considered “strong,” that is, not easily figured out by others. (For the most effective organization of your financial information, you need all of your financial data and information to know how to make sense of the money in your life and how you want it to be directed and used.)