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Janice France-Pettit: Modernize your money management

Union Bank of California

Posted: July 3, 2010 4:55 a.m.
Updated: July 3, 2010 4:55 a.m.

These days, the world can move pretty fast. Career and family commitments may keep you so busy that financial tasks and daily money management may fall to the bottom of your task list.

Having an efficient and up-to-date system for paying bills, balancing your check book and filing important financial documents can be critical to help keep your finances in order.

An updated system can also help ensure you do not overdraw accounts - a costly and time-intensive mistake, and knowing you are on top of your finances may enhance your peace of mind.

Take advantage of the Internet and other technologies, as well as new options from financial institutions that can help you avoid errors and make money management less tedious and more efficient.

The following tips may help clarify the options available to you and provide ideas for making your financial processes more convenient and organized.

Simplify your finances
One way to avoid confusion may be to eliminate some of your credit cards. Generally, two to four cards are sufficient for most people. Using fewer cards may also reduce the risk of missed payments and help avoid late fees.

Consolidating accounts, such as rolling old 401(k)s into a single individual retirement account (IRA) may make it even easier to keep track of your assets.

Create a digital budget

Creating a budget can be easy with the help of online budget tracking websites and software. Some assist you in calculating your short-term and long-term financial goals. Many also itemize your personal expenses and business expenses so you can maintain an accurate account of how you are managing your funds.

Even though most of the sites pledge to protect your personal information, you should research and carefully review each site's privacy policy before you register.

Go paperless

Managing your financial accounts online may be another convenient way to save time and money. Some service providers are beginning to charge monthly fees for paper statements. Try to pay as many bills as you can electronically and sign up to receive monthly statements online.

Online banking may also help eliminate clutter from your mailbox. Keep in mind that you still should monitor your bills and review your statements on a regular basis. Setting up automatic payments and calendar alerts are two options that may help.

Set aside savings automatically
Setting up automatic savings, such as the transfer of a set amount of funds from your checking account each month into a savings account, can be a simple way to build or grow a nest egg.

The amount of money you put away is up to you and your financial situation. Try to use a high-yield savings account to maximize your growth and consider automatic savings plans with your employer's retirement plan, if available.

Following these steps and consulting regularly with a financial professional may help you manage your money more efficiently and help accomplish your financial goals. You may also have greater peace of mind knowing your finances are streamlined and up to date.

Janice France-Pettit is a senior vice president and regional manager for Union Bank, overseeing the Simi Valley, San Fernando Valley and Antelope Valley regions. Her column reflects her own opinion and not necessarily that of The Signal. The foregoing article is intended to provide general information about retirement planning for businesses and is not considered financial or tax advice from Union Bank. Please consult your financial or tax advisor.



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