Losing it in the fast lane

Losing it in the fast lane

Wow! Life has been so busy lately with all the projects on the go, a product launch, deadlines, balancing my home life, hardly time to breathe. When life gets crazy busy like this, I tend to lose track of things. Things like making personal appointments and phone calls, following up on details. The house is a little messier; magazines sitting unread, projects that I began a month ago sitting idle, abandoned temporarily as other priorities demand my attention. At work my desk is buried under mounds of papers in what I affectionately refer to as my “organized mess”. Some times the world wants more of me than I have to give. Now I know that I am not alone on this insane hamster wheel. I can hear you now, saying … wow, you think you’re so hard done by, try adding a couple of kids to the mix!

At times like this, if it weren’t for my calendar and my faithful adherence to checking it regularly I’d be in big trouble. My organizer is my saviour. My strategy for getting through these times is to let go of the unimportant things. I focus on the “need to get done” tasks instead of the “nice to get done”.

When life comes at you at mach speed, it’s easy to lose track of things, like opening mail, paying bills or tracking your spending. Have you ever heard yourself saying “Whaddya mean the hydro bill was supposed to have been paid yesterday, we just received it…oops three weeks ago! Well uhm.. it seems like it’s been that long”!

Before you know it, you’re getting reminder notices in the mail for your bills and there is no money in the bank because you were not minding your budget and overspent just a titch.

Here are some helpful tips to keep you organized and on track with your finances during hectic times.

  1. What ever system you use, keep it simple and easy to use. If you are already time stressed, don’t add to it by choosing a complicated organizing system.
  2. If you are a techno-geek, there are a bazillion on- line organizers out there. Stay away from any system that offers anything more than pure money tracking and management. Some sites redirect you to all sorts of shady characters willing to help you pay off your debt or repair your credit. Be wary.
  3. Set up an automatic withdrawal program with your bank or credit union, so the bills are paid automatically every month from your account. Caution: if you have a dispute with the bill, you will have to take costly and time consuming measures to prevent the company from withdrawing what they think is their entitlement from your account. It may take a long time to get the money back.
  4. Typically most bills have a regular due date. Enter the name of the bill on your calendar a few days ahead of its due date. This way you only have to devote a few minutes at a regular time each day to check your calendar. Set up a file or other space where you can keep your bills until they are paid. When the date arrives, pull out the bill and pay it.
  5. Use a file box or drawer with files folders labelled from 1 to 31. Each file folder represents a day of the month. When you receive your bill, drop it in the file dated a few days before the date the bill is due. For eg: if the bill is due on the 15th, put it in the file labelled 12, and pay it on that day. This allows a few days for processing. Don’t forget to allow extra time for processing on holidays and weekends.
  6. If you have gone paperless, you will be receiving emails instead of paper bills. Be sure to check your email account regularly so you won’t miss your statement. It is still your responsibility to pay your bill on time, regardless of whether or not you receive a statement from the company. The statement they send you is merely a courtesy. It is your responsibility to pay what you owe. If you do not receive your bill when you expect to, call the company immediately. They can send another statement.
  7. As far as tracking expenses when you are super busy, designate a spot in home where you will keep your receipts. At the end of each day, put your receipts in this spot. Then take a few minutes every week to reconcile your expenses to your bank account. Taking a few minutes to do this regularly will keep this chore manageable when you are time stressed.
  8. Create a system to organize your financial records. Having an organized system takes little time to maintain and you won’t waste time looking for information. It will be at your fingertips.
  9. Delegate some tasks to someone who can help. You don’t have to do everything yourself.
  10. Ask yourself this question. If you do not have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?

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