10-Day Challenge: Budget Organizer to Improve Your Financial Health
Spend a few minutes a day completing this budget tidy-up checklist. After 10 days, your finances will be in spring-clean-esque working order! Wash, Rinse, Repeat: Once yearly. (Or more, we won’t tell!)
Budget Organizer Day 1: Re(dis)cover online banking
Make sure you know your username and password for online banking for all of your financial accounts. If you don’t, recover them by clicking ‘forgot password.’ Here’s a checklist of the ones to make sure you have active access to. Check them off when complete.
- Retirement Accounts
- Checking Accounts
- Savings Accounts
- HSA/FSA Accounts
- Auto Loan
- Other Loan
- Credit Cards and Retailer Credit Cards
Budget Organizer Day 2:
If anything in your life should be iron-clad when it comes to security, it's your money. Implement these tips and feel more financially secure.
- Get a free password manager to safely store all of your financial usernames and passwords.
- Don’t reuse the same password more than once.
- Don’t share passwords.
- Include upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols in your passwords.
Pro tip: adding a blank space with your spacebar in the middle of a password (if the system allows it) makes it infinitely more difficult for hackers to crack. Literally it would take them infinity to crack it.
- Don’t use family members’ names or pet names, and don’t use your date of birth or other significant ‘easy to guess’ items in your passwords
- Check out if a specific password has been hacked at haveibeenpwned.com/Passwords
Budget Organizer Day 3:
App It Up
Now that you have all of your usernames and passwords updated and stored, it’s time to get each bank or credit union's app for your mobile devices.
These are designed specifically for ease of use on mobile so it’s worth searching the App Store or Google Play to see if each of your financial institutions has an app. (They probably do.) And you can complete this budget checklist item without getting off the couch!
This will make managing your finances so much easier! After downloading them all, you can put them in a folder on your phone or tablet titled "Finance" to make it even easier.
Budget Organizer Day 4:
Credit Check on Aisle 5
First, you'll want to set yourself up for success by enrolling in the free credit score tool within Copper State Credit Union Online Banking.
You'll get daily updates on your credit score as well as credit report changes and real time credit monitoring. All without doing a hard pull on your credit. Learn more!
Also - know that you’re legally entitled to a credit report from all three agencies (TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian) once per year. You can find this at AnnualCreditReport.com – the only source for free credit reports from all three agencies and authorized by federal law.
Once you get your report:
- Check for errors (1 in 5 Americans has an error on at least one of their credit reports due to no fault of their own!)
- Dispute errors if needed. Here's a guide from the CFPB on the most common errors and how to fix them.
Budget Organizer Day 5: Statement, Shmatement
Enroll in electronic statements, if you aren’t already.
You know bank statements are important, but they’re mailed to you each month and then strewn all over your house/apartment/file cabinet/junk drawer/cat’s litter box/recycle bin…need I continue? They’ll be much safer electronically filed away. So take care of this budget checklist item, sign up for eStatements and make your life a little more clutter-free.
“But I’m already enrolled in eStatements”
Awesome! How long has it been since you downloaded them and filed them in a folder on your computer? For security reasons, these aren't sent to your email inbox, but instead are stored securely within your online banking. Take 15 minutes, blast your favorite 90s playlist, and knock out this budget tidy-up task in no time. Then you’ll be prepared when you need to refer to these statements in the future - i.e. tax time, or when you're applying for a mortgage loan.
Budget Organizer Day 6:
Almost every bank and credit union have some type of text or email alert/notification system. Your budget checklist should include some of the helpful alerts you see below. These notify you when something happens on your account.
- Remote Deposit Completed
- Automatic Deposit or Withdrawal Alert - Cha-ching! Yes, I want to know the minute I get a direct deposit or paycheck!
- Balance Alert - Know your balance without even signing in
- Debit Card Purchase Alert - Helps prevent fraud
- Insufficient Funds Alert
- Loan Payment Due Alert
- Transaction Alert
- Transfer Alerts
- Savings Goal Alerts
- OLB Access Alert
Our favorites are bolded in the list above. Choose a few that work best for you and update your email/phone number so that you’re always in the know. For Copper State CU online banking, find this under Settings > Notifications.
Budget Organizer Day 7:
What’s your financial net worth?
Financial Net Worth is the value of everything you own minus all your debts. This budget checklist item isn't for everyone, but it could come in handy to know your number.
Asset: Checking and savings account balances, value of securities (stocks/bonds), real property value, the market value of a car, etc.
Liability: mortgage balance, car loan balance, personal loan balance, credit card balance, student loan balance, etc.
To calculate, first find the value of all of your assets combined. Then subtract all of your loans or liabilities. The remaining number is your Net Worth.
Monique has $5,000 in her savings account, $300 in her checking account, $21,500 in a 401k, and owns her car free and clear (valued at $3,000). Plus she has a valuable heirloom piece of jewelry she stores in a safe worth $10,000. Her house's fair market value is $300,000. Her assets = $339,800.
Monique has $273,000 left to pay on her mortgage loan and carries a balance of about $6,000 in credit card debt. Her liabilities = $279,000
Monique's financial net worth = $60,800
A simple goal to shoot for is simply a net worth that is increasing over time instead of decreasing, and that it's positive rather than negative. Some people prefer a target number though – and you can use this formula if you prefer:
So – what’s your financial net worth?
If you aren't happy with it, you might want to check out our free budgeting template!
Budget Organizer Day 8:
Automate the Save
The three biggest reasons for not saving are:
- I don’t know what to save for
- I don’t remember to save
- By the end of them month there’s nothing left for savings
Let’s address solutions for all three:
“I don’t know what to save for.”
- At least $1000 in emergency fund (it helps to open a separate savings account!)
- Periodic expenses like new tires, holidays, birthdays, etc.
- Build up a buffer fund in your checking account ($500)
“I don’t remember to save.”
- Set up automatic transfers from checking to savings. If you’ll be tempted to take it back out, ‘hide’ the account from view like you can in Copper State CU online banking.
“By the end of the month there’s nothing left for savings.”
- Set it aside and pay yourself the same day you get your paycheck/direct deposit.
Budget Organizer Day 9:
Try Cash for Fun Money
This is easily the biggest budget checklist buster – spending money on things we enjoy. Whether it’s Top Golf, Anthem Outlets, dining out, or traveling, many of us work hard and like to enjoy the money we earn by doing fun things or buying stuff for people we love. This type of expenditure is hard to track if you’re using plastic money a.k.a. debit or credit cards.
A very effective option is to visit the ATM every two weeks, on payday, and withdraw the exact amount that you’re allowed to spend on ‘fun stuff’ for the following two weeks. Use the cash until it runs out, and then you don’t have any more you can spend until you visit the ATM on your next payday.
A solution for online purchases is that you use your credit or debit card but immediately put the same amount of cash in an envelope that says ‘bank.’ Yes, it’s silly, but you’re still keeping track with cash by doing it this way. I recommend depositing the 'bank' cash back into your account weekly if you don't have a buffer fund.
Budget Organizer Day 10:
Be kind to yourself – keeping on top of your finances and your budget is a lot of work. Even if you only completed one or two of the tips from our 10-Day Challenge Budget Organizer, you’re still ahead of where you were. (Or maybe you haven't done any of them yet because you're still reading this. 😅) Regardless, give yourself a kind word and a pat on the back.
Be kind to others – Is there a charity or non-profit organization you’ve been wanting to support but never got around to it? Set up a donation schedule monthly or quarterly. Helping others feels good.
If you feel like you need more than a checklist to tidy up your budget, we've got you covered:
This article is intended to be a general resource only and is not intended to be nor does it constitute legal advice. Any recommendations are based on opinion only. Rates, terms and conditions are subject to change and may vary based on creditworthiness, qualifications, and collateral conditions. All loans subject to approval.