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This may also take some time but you will eventually be glad you did it. What this means is sitting down and making a list of the expenses you’ll have this year so you can set aside funds to pay for them. You know that Christmas will roll around and there will be birthday gifts to purchase. Do you want to take a vacation? There will also be car and home repairs although it's difficult to account for them because you can’t know how much they will be until they occur. However, you know they will crop up. The best way to handle these expenses is to create a new savings account just to cover them. Once you add up all these expenses you will know how much you'll need to save. Then divide this by 12 or 24 so you can see how much you will have to put aside every month or out of every paycheck in order to cover them.
Automate everything possible
One of the things that bogs down many people is bill paying. It can be tough to remember the dates all your payments are due and how much is each. You can take a lot of the brain damage out of this by using automatic withdrawals to cover your recurring fixed payments. Your bank or credit union probably offers this service and if not your auto and life insurance companies, cell phone providers and credit card companies undoubtedly do. Sit down for a few minutes, go through all of your bills to identify your recurring, fixed expenses and then set up automatic withdrawals to pay them. Note: Be sure to review your automatic withdrawals at least quarterly to see it they are still correct.
You could also set up automatic withdrawals from your checking account to your savings account or accounts. This can make saving virtually painless because it’s harder to miss money you've never seen then when you have to consciously move it from one account to another. If you have a standard IRA or Roth IRA you could automate your payments to it through automatic withdrawals.
Focus on that 21-day “sprint”
The secret to getting your finances under control and simplifying your financial life is to do it quickly. As noted above, focus your attention on a short-term, 21-day sprint. Block out these days on your calendar and use them to work through the tasks you've just read. You may find it hard to block out those 21 days but if you do you'll find the other 306 (or so) days of the year will be much easier to handle – at least financially. As far as your job, your spouse and those kids – well, that's a totally different matter.