After trying different budgeting methods, paying off $40k of debt, cash flowing a wedding, and saving up a $20k emergency fund, I’ve realized that one of the most important aspects of personal finance is HOW you organize your finances. If our finances get messy I’m less likely to stick to our budget and less motivated to look at our numbers and get everything sorted out.
For this reason, I spend some time looking over our current finance system at the end of every year. If we need to, we make adjustments and revisit a few weeks down the line to make sure those changes are working. In this post, I’m breaking down our current financial organization system, what bank accounts we use, and how our income is transferred into various accounts in order to reach our financial goals.
I just want to make it clear that there is no “correct” process or system. Ours has changed throughout the years depending on what our current financial goals are. The reason for sharing our process is to hopefully help you get ideas on how you can setup your system in order to help you reach your financial goals.
This is what our current system looks like:
All of our take-home pay goes into a joint checking account that we have designated as our INCOME account. All of our income is deposited directly into this account and from here we distribute the funds to different accounts based on our monthly budget.
BILLS (checking account)
We have a separate checking account that we use only for online bill payments. The BILLS checking account is something that we implemented at the beginning of this year and it has already made such a difference. Before we had this in place, our bills would be paid straight from our INCOME checking account. The problem with this was that we never had a clear picture of how much money was really available because some bill payments would take a few days to process and show up on our account. By implementing the BILLS checking account, we now transfer the bill amount to this account, make a payment and don’t have to worry about the funds being available.
SPENDING (personal checking account or cash envelopes/dividers)
Our personal spending money that we budget for each pay period is transferred to our personal checking accounts in case there is something we want to purchase online. If we aren’t making any online purchases, then the money gets withdrawn and organized into our cash envelopes (or dividers in my case).
INVESTING (Roth IRA accounts)
For investing, we are currently doing Roth IRAs and trying to max those out each year. We transfer over our investing amounts every pay period to our current Vanguard accounts and use the funds to purchase index funds. (To learn more about investing I recommend you follow @personalfinanceclub on IG, very informative and helpful finance account that showed us the best way to invest our money).
SAVING (savings accounts)
Once we have sent our funds to our BILLS, SPENDING and INVESTING accts, then we transfer the remaining amount to our current savings goal. When we still had debt and had our mini emergency fund saved up, this remaining amount would go straight to debt. Now that we are debt free and completed our 6 month emergency fund, we are now putting all of our extra funds to a long-term savings account for the purchase of a home in the future.
As you can see, putting together an organizational system and process for your finances is done through a lot of trial and error. Tweaking your system as you go and discover other needs. If you are in the process of nailing down your system, here are a few tips that can help .
Tips to create a system for your finances
Make sure you create a budget before the start of the month
To make it easier to follow your financial process you should know how much money needs to go into each account. AND for that you need a budget. Make sure you create your budget before the start of the month so you’re ready to go as soon as payday comes around.
Distribute your income and make any withdrawals you need ASAP
When you leave money in your account you are tempted to use your debit card to make random purchases which will mess up your budget and make you less likely to stick to it. I always make sure to distribute my money, pay any bills that need to get paid, and withdraw cash for my envelopes the same day the money hits my account.
Don’t be afraid to make changes to your system
Every situation is unique and depends on your current debt picture, what your current goals are, family size, income amount, etc. In the last 8 years, our system has changed and is constantly evolving, don’t be afraid to try something out and make changes.