Some days are just not good ones to be dealing with personal finances and that is OK. Though I am passionate about financial planning, there are those days when I just don’t want to deal with my own finances because other things are going on in my life or I am just plain tired. I can afford to go through days like this because I batch my financial efforts. Tasks like bill paying, reviewing investments, checking bank balance can be performed quickly in batched sessions because I have simplified with fewer accounts and have most bills paid automatically. In short, like reducing house clutter frees up time and effort for cleaning, reducing my financial clutter permits me to more efficiently and less frequently attend to my financial chores.
When do you get your car serviced? Years ago, the common idea was to get your oil and filter changed every 3000 miles or so. Today’s cars don’t require as frequent oil changes often going to 7000 to 8000 between oil services. My car has a percentage indicator until the next service is due. It conveniently comes on at 15% of service life until the next service is due. This gives me time to make the appointment and plan around out of town trips, etc. That said, I work to get the work done when the indicator is at 5% or less so to maximize the useful of life of the oil and filter. This keeps from returning to the dealer as soon and saves some dollars in the long term. I typically get another 700-800 miles more of driving by waiting. If I change 10% early at the 15% mark, I am will be making at least one complete unnecessary service during the time I own the car saving and spreading out my service costs over a longer time.
In Northern Illinois, it is common place to appeal property tax assessments. Often, the rates are set seemingly in an arbitrary fashion. There are many property tax-oriented law firms specializing in appeal work. I have found that using a tax appeal company has saved me several thousand dollars in taxes. Perhaps I could do the work myself though I am not an expert. I have saved real money even after paying the appeal firm. As alternative, many local government units will help appeal the property taxes. My local township assessor offers residents assistance with appeals and exemption filings. As a financial planner, I check the exemptions applied to my client’s properties. I have found about 33% do not have the homeowner’s exemption in place. I have prepared the paperwork for my clients whom have often received $1500 to $2000 in property tax refunds when the bureaucratic process runs its course.
Cleaning up financial clutter might even mean cleaning clutter you don’t exists. Often, I find clients and family members have accounts they have forgotten about and are effectively abandoned. Institutions that cannot locate the owners much turn over the accounts to the state after a period of years. Collectively the states have billions of unclaimed funds. Periodically, I check http://missingmoney.com/ for personal, family, and clients that might have money loafing in some state coffers. Over the years I have found for my Dad, myself and others. In the last year, I found funds from when I lived in North Carolina over 15 years ago. I thought it would be just a few hundred dollars. Once I followed through the specified process, I received a check for about $1500. Do you or loved ones have missing money clutter that needs to be cleaned up?
Health checkups can be just a pain. As Benjamin Franklin wrote “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Medical appointments cost in money and often costlier in time gone from work or family care obligations. As result it can be easy to put them off. The checkups might find hidden health problems and address them early. I find more positive than negatives with my appointments. I get routine vaccinations (like the annual flu shot) at my provider’s office. I have found that it confirms my healthy lifestyle choices when I get good lab results and favorable comments from the doctors and other healthcare providers. Spending a bit of time and money for routine care will help me, in the long run, avoid costly and long-term health care issues. Ultimately, I use health checkups as one means of keeping good health so that I can live the life I want with a minimum of healthcare related distractions.
What chores do you hate? Outsource them and free yourself!
Some chores just need to be outsourced. Those with significant income can outsource almost whatever they want. The rest of us must pick and choose. For me the dastardly chore is ironing. There is no way I have the time, patience or skill to iron dress shirts or pants. I suppose with time I could get better and faster at it though I have no interest in doing so. The pain threshold for me is greater than the financial cost of taking my shirts to the cleaners. I free myself of the aggravation of the work and have more time to do other things I value more like helping my son with his homework.
As a single dad, I have found self-care to be critical to my total well-being. Self-care as I define it helps me stay physically healthy, clear headed, and financial well. Incorporating self-care in to one’s lifestyle is challenging. It takes work for me to incorporate taking care of myself. There are many demands on my time and energy. I have made a deliberate plan to exercise most mornings, kayak on a nearby lake, keep up with routine medical appointments (like flu shots), and make sure my finances are in a good place. When I do self-care, I am a better parent and person. In short, life goes so much better.