Book Review: One Year to an Organized Financial Life

Photo: Regina Leeds

There's a reason we tend to talk about getting our finances in order. More often than not, the first issue we have to deal with is organization. That may mean sorting through stacks of paper for bills and statements we didn't really want to see in the first place, or it may mean dealing with clutter that distracts us from even starting on the paperwork. It's just about impossible to improve your finances if you don't have them organized.

That's the premise of One Year to an Organized Financial Life, by Regina Leeds and Russell Wild. Leeds is a professional organizer as well as the author of such books as One Year to an Organized Life, while Wild is a NAPFA-certified financial advisor. The two have put together an organized approach to getting organized, breaking down the monstrous task of dealing with financial issues into small steps that can be handled without stress.

One Year to an Organized Financial Life is not written with the idea of completely fixing your finances overnight, though. It can take months or even years to build up a snarl of financial paperwork and plans, and Leeds and Wild know that it takes plenty of time to resolve such a situation. The book is organized around a calendar, offering a year-long guide. In January, the plan is to start work on the clutter and implement a filing system. With step-by-step instructions and bullet points, the book navigates through taxes, budgeting, credit, long-term savings and other key considerations for your finances. There's even a well-timed section in November on budgeting for the holidays.

This book is meant very specifically for readers who are fairly busy. If you've found yourself struggling to actually get specific parts of your finances in order, it's ideal because it's not just general advice, like some personal finance books. Instead, Leeds and Wild have created a resource that explains each action you need to take, along with the steps you can use to keep from having to come back and re-organize in the future. They go much deeper than explaining that a person should save more and spend less, discussing the reasons you may handle your finances the way you do.

There is always an emotional component when it comes to money and One Year to an Organized Financial Life takes that fact into account. Leeds brings in her experience as a professional organizer to discuss the symptoms that can go along with financial issues, such as physical clutter, as well as how you can handle those symptoms as you resolve the underlying concerns.

One Year to an Organized Financial Life is 288 pages long — a fast read, but a book you'll likely come back to again and again. It's published by Da Capo Lifelong Books and is available for $16.95.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of the book for review.

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