Personal Finance

5 Productivity Hacks to Organize Your Finances Once and for All

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Business man working on his tablet as his female business partner takes notes from his notebook's screen, both very focused and productive

Other than CPAs, there aren’t many people who get excited about looking at their finances.

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There has never been a better and more critical time to reassess your financial situation than now, whether you’re looking for ways to access more funds for upcoming deals or places you can cut back to save.

When you intentionally monitor your financial health, you are much more likely to hit your goals.

Still, the aversion looms. It is tedious, frustrating, and some would even say depressing. Here are several ways to shake off the fear and take action.

1. Set an Appointment

Anything allotted time in your schedule is much more likely to get done. Honor the time in your calendar like it’s an important meeting.

You can even dress for the occasion—the effort you put into showing up for this task can impact how efficient your results are. I recommend shutting off all social media so that you can focus on getting it done.

Breaking down the task can make it feel a lot less overwhelming. If you are going through your finances for the last three months, do your credit card statements first, then your bank accounts, then your investments.

When you spend time on your finances, you will also start to come up with more creative ideas for how to navigate and strategize your future money goals. Because I was paying attention to my financials over the past six months, two properties were refinanced just before March 15, and I got rid of some investments that were not performing.

If you need help organizing your time, I recommend using Google Calendar and assigning your activities different colors. I’ve also found Google Docs and Spreadsheets to be simple tools for keeping all of your information organized in one place.

So, schedule a time to do your finances, and when the time comes, get to work.

Calendar page marked with drawing pin, closeup

2. Turn on Music or a Podcast

Sometimes you need a little noise to get you through things you are avoiding. When I need to organize my desk, I always turn on a podcast or music. It almost makes me look forward to that time because I know I will be singing, dancing in my seat, or learning something new.

It also works as a motivating trigger. The music or podcast starts, and I begin to do my finances. It sounds simple, but the amount of energy we use resisting is fierce, so these small tricks work wonders.

The BiggerPockets Money Podcast, which focus on finances, taxes, and more, is available (for free!) if you want to brush up on your skills.

Related: 10 BiggerPockets Podcasts to Binge During Quarantine 

3. Use the Pomodoro Technique

Francesco Cirillo developed this time management method in the late 1980s. The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks.

More than 2 million people use this method and rave about the results. It comes down to committing to a short period to get a task done and working intensely on it.

You can break it down into more extended periods, as well. Both Brian Tracy in Eat That Frog! and Gary Keller and Jay Papasan in The ONE Thing talk about the power of starting your day working on the most important task for three to four hours at a time.

The point is to practice diligence during that time to get your work completed.

time-worth

4. Don’t Go It Alone

Anytime you need to get something completed and want some company, you can schedule that period as a date with others—whether in real life or on the videoconferencing platform of your choice. Many entrepreneurs who work from home do this so that they don’t feel alone and are held accountable to get work done.

On Zoom, for instance, you can keep the video on and mute the sound. It is almost like being in a library with a friend.

If some of the numbers are confusing you, hire a bookkeeper or accountant. You can bring one on to help set up systems that you can take over, or if it is in your budget, you can hire someone to support you so that the job gets done no matter what.

At one point, I kept thinking I would do my accounting—until it was out of control. I don’t recommend waiting that long.

Related: How Finding the Right Accountant Can Save You Money

5. Set an Intention

Remember the reason you are taking the time to manage your finances. If you want to attain financial independence, you need to look at your numbers. If you have an aversion to it, you can use one of these tools to get you into the habit. Like with any skill, it will get easier with time.

Also, there's no time like a recession to cut back on extra expenses. I saved $150 a month by switching cable carriers about six months ago. Consider how much it adds up—$1,800 a year and $9,000 in five years. Not to mention, if that money was invested into a property, think how much more of an ROI you could earn.

Is that not great motivation?

Here’s one last great tip. If you want all of your goals organized in one place, pick up a copy of Brandon Turner’s Intention Journal.

The bottom line is that there are a ton of motivating ways to get started managing your finances right now. These tools can also work for managing any task that needs to get completed.

If you still are not ready to get into action, pick one of these five ideas, and as Nike says, “Just do it.”

Your life of financial independence awaits!

What’s your favorite way to manage your finances?

Share your strategies in the comments below.

Tamar Hermes is a full-time real estate investor and educator. After building successful businesses in the retail and entertainment industries, she turned her attention to real estate with a missio...
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    Wenda Kennedy JD from Nikiski, Alaska
    Replied about 2 months ago
    I've always done my own bookkeeping. I have hired "helpers" in the past, but I always end up back at my desk sogging through it. Yes, I hate the whole process, BUT it keeps me up on what's going on with the different aspects of my business life. Yesterday I discovered we have a problem with a huge space furnace in one of our mechanical shops. It is sucking about $400 per month worth of electrical bills even though the machine is not running now -- it's spring here. It took a couple of hours to run down and isolate that power drain, but now we know where the problem is. How did I know? I pay the electrical bills for the businesses and I saw the bill for that meter. After all these years, I know what the bill should be at this time of the year. And that's just one example. Another is that I don't have problems with people sending me bogus bills. At one time, I found out that I had a property manager who was supposed to be using my charge account at the local hardware store for getting parts for my large property. They were running a handyman business on the side and also charging those parts to my account. It all comingled so it would have been hard for a bookkeeper to notice the extra charges. Since I was both "running" the jobs for the property and getting the materials bill, I had a leg up on the situation. Yes, some people do cheat IF they think they can get away with it. Doing the bookkeeping is a front line defense against getting ripped off. The other thing I do while I'm doing the bookkeeping is to keep on top of financial trends and how they are affecting me. Cash flows change with the seasons of the year, the financial health of my community, and my personal decisions. I try to ask myself if there is anything that needs extra attention or emphasis in my little world. Can I see problems looming on the horizon? Can I see an opportunity developing out there? Every receipt and every bill tell a story about a decision I made, big or small. My present and future financial health are woven through every one of them.
    Luis Rivera New to Real Estate from Puerto Rico
    Replied about 2 months ago
    Thank you for this article, its the simple stuff that matter!
    Tamar Hermes from Los Angeles, CA
    Replied about 2 months ago
    Yes! Consistency of the important simple things.
    Rick Grubbs Rental Property Investor from Salisbury, NC
    Replied about 2 months ago
    I have a recurring reminder on my Google calendar to reconcile rental expenses on the second of each month. That way the bills don't accumulate and get too far behind to where I have to remember what they are for. Take time to learn Excel or Google sheets. We have 99 units and manage the expenses for them in real time with a spreadsheet that shows me to the penny how much I have made so far this year. This also allows me to keep a running total to know how much my 10% giving (tithe) should be.
    Tamar Hermes from Los Angeles, CA
    Replied about 2 months ago
    @Rick Grubbs Thanks for sharing Rick. Do you use one excel spreadsheet with tabs for each unit? How do you separate units from properties? Can this all be done with google spreadsheets as well?