November 07, 2008

Multiple checking accounts – If you have many checking accounts it's a good time for you to consider streamlining this part of your life. Elaine writes that she has 4 checkbooks and uses different accounts for different things. As a streamliner I am almost speechless as I think about how complicated that must make things. Some complexities that come to mind: That means Elaine has to move money from one account to another just to keep the balances high enough to use the accounts. Elaine gets 4 statements every month. Each account should be reconciled every month (I doubt she does that but I can't bring myself to ask). I imagine promotional pieces come from each bank stuffing her mailbox frequently. What if she is spending money that is supposed to come out of a checking account that she does not have the checkbook for at the moment? She has to keep straight which account is for what types of expenses. That all adds up to headache to me. To streamline I suggest an alternative. First Elaine can simply move all her funds to her favorite bank and close 3 of the accounts. That bank might have the most locations close to her, offer free money card transactions, have the easiest download center online, and possibly all these features. If she needs to track expenses by category the manual method is to put a code in the check register as she writes check. Periodically she tallies expenses by code. The computer method is to download transactions to money management software such as Quicken or Microsoft Money, code the transactions to relevant categories, and enjoy the simplicity of automation totaling expenses by category. The great thing about the computer method is that the computer remembers how expenses from a particular vendor are categorized and automatically enters them next time she visits the vendor. If you have multiple checking accounts please share the reasoning behind keeping them in a comment below. If you're going to close some accounts now, let us know that too.
Holiday preparation (sort of) ~ Friday @ 5:00 Have you started getting the holiday catalogs of your favorite companies? Are you also getting the holiday catalogs of all their favorite related businesses? Most of us are. And, the number of trees they represent, the hours you could spend perusing them, and the duplication is remarkable. Most people tell me they'd visit with family, get a spa treatment, go for a walk, enjoy their pet more, and languish in a good book if they just had more time. Ignoring catalogs so you can do your favorite thing with your time is an easy way to claim hours each week from now until Christmas. Ah, exercise. That's the other thing readers would like to do more especially to counter the calorie fests that we're invited to attend. This weekend begin a collection routine for those catalogs – not so you can shop but so you can stop them during the slow and relaxing month of January. Simply put a brown paper grocery bag near the door you enter the house most of the time. Rather than bring the catalogs in, simply drop them in the bag on the way in the house. Don't forget to engage whoever retrieves the mail most days in this new routine. If the bag is full in a couple of weeks… put it aside, thank goodness that your catalog contribution to landfills will soon diminish, and start another. Check back here in January for steps to stop catalogs… and enter your favorite way in the comment section below for those that want to get started soon!

Susan Sabo

I am a tool-loving productivity specialist who gets things done so I can travel the world, bicycle our country, spoil my friends & colleagues, and show you how to do the same.

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