Janet Alvarez
Executive Editor

As Executive Editor of Wise Bread & an anchor for WHYY/NPR, Janet Alvarez is a formidable consumer advocate, personal finance and investing expert. She appears frequently in national media, including the Today Show, Good Morning Washington, ABC and CBS News, Bloomberg TV, Cheddar TV, and more.

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6 Easy Ways to Simplify Your Financial Life

Straightforward ways to master money management.

By Janet Alvarez, Executive Editor
Advertorial Disclosure

This is a sponsored post by Bank of America as part of Wise Bread's continued partnership with them. My opinions are my own.

Despite our best intentions, it can be easy to fall behind on our financial goals. After all, family, professional and personal responsibilities (along with some of the difficulties created by the pandemic) can make it challenging to stay on top of our money all of the time. If you’re looking for some easy ways to simplify your finances, consider these straightforward ways to master money management:

1. Create a financial calendar: Many of us start the year with great intentions, but we fall off track along the way. I always recommend creating a budget as an essential piece of money advice, and I’m going to make a slightly different suggestion for those of you who already have a budget — make a financial calendar. Store your calendar on your phone or tablet, so you can set reminders and create a list of major financial tasks you intend on completing, along with their due date. For example, you might remind yourself to complete your taxes by early April, compile all of your tax documents by March 1, and increase your 401k contributions for the year by January 15. You can also use it to set financial goals, such as the date by which you hope to save $2,000 for a vacation, or to track goal milestones toward paying off debt.

2. Ditch the Paper: Paper bills, credit card statements and other financial documents can become easily disorganized. Take a moment to request all of your financial documents be switched to e-delivery, and if you have old files of paper document you still need, start scanning them into an e-format. They’ll be easier to retrieve and use, less likely to be misplaced, and may allow you to make better financial choices when you can see everything at once.

3. Clean Out Your Wallet: If you’re savings-conscious like me, your wallet is probably overflowing with retailer loyalty cards and coupons. These are powerful tools for reducing costs with perks like free shipping, early access to sales, and other special promotions and discounts. However, having too much plastic in your wallet can also leave you feeling disorganized, scattered, and less likely to use these many programs regularly. Consider downloading apps for your favorite loyalty and coupon programs, or better yet, an app to consolidate all of your accounts in one place.

4. Streamline Credit Cards: While you’re cleaning out your wallet, consider the myriad rewards credit cards you may have. You’re less likely to use multiple rewards cards as intended, and more likely to run up needless fees. I recommend using a single rewards card, such as Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card, that allows you to switch your cash-back category on a monthly basis. That means a single card can earn you top-notch cash back for online shopping, travel or many other common shopping categories. You’re more likely to get all the cash back you deserve and can save on fees associated with juggling multiple cards.

5. Layer Your Rewards Programs: As mentioned above, be sure you’re paying for your purchases with a versatile credit card that rewards you with cash back. If you’re enrolled in a banking rewards program, that could boost the cash back earnings on your credit card purchases even higher. Layer on other cash back deal programs your bank may offer, connected to your favorite stores, restaurants and more. Once you’ve organized your loyalty cards and coupon apps, you can layer those on, too — effectively, quadrupling your rewards. By using multiple techniques to earn rewards, I’ve found I can often earn 5-20% back on common purchases.

6. Automate Your Savings: Meeting your savings goals is easier when you automate them. Many banks and financial institutions offer ways to regularly transfer funds from your checking into savings accounts. This allows you to keep your hands out of the proverbial cookie jar. If staying on track with savings is at all challenging, then automating savings is one of the simplest ways to ensure you hit your goals.

Simplifying your financial routine is an exercise that yields real rewards. It makes your money work for you — rather than you for your money — by creating efficient ways to support your goals. And after all, isn’t that what financial freedom is about?