November 22, 2008

Green Living Ideas for Your Family’s Finances

Creative Commons License photo credit: billaday

We’re all concerned about our family’s finances. When people think about budgeting and money matters they visualize check books, account statements, tax records, stacks of receipts, a calculator, and the like. The visual usually involves a lot of clutter and chaos and perhaps a stressed out person poring over their finances. There are a lot of steps we can take to streamline and simplify our finance management for your family and many of these methods happen to be green too. Even paying our bills and managing our money can be hassle free and environmentally minded.

Here are a few ideas to help you green your finances:

[ad#ad-2] 1. Manage your finances with budgeting and finance software for your computer for a hassle free and paper free option. Quicken and QuickBooks are two popular accounting programs. Microsoft Money can be linked to your online bank accounts and will pull transaction data directly from your banks upon request. This is a very handy feature. In lieu of fancy software programs you can also use a simple spreadsheet and there are many templates available online that are free and customized to meet the needs of finance management.

2. Request that your bank stop sending you paper account statements in the mail. Most banks now offer online reconciliation and account statements. Online statements usually go back up to six months and can be printed if you need them for any reason. Account statements can also be emailed upon request.

3. Request that your bills be sent to you electronically. All your creditors may not yet offer this service but more and more are offering this every year. When the bills come to you via email you can just click and pay. The emails can be filed away on your computer if you need to refer back to them.

4. Get away from checks and snail mail by paying bills online, over the phone, or through monthly drafts direct from your checking account. These transactions are easy and waste free.

5. When online paying bills or making purchases, refrain from printing confirmations and receipts. Instead capture an image of your screen and the receipt using the control+alt+print screen function. Then just save the image as a .jpg file using a photo editor and file it on your computer accordingly. You can also keep track of what receipts you have and dollar amounts on a simple spreadsheet.

6. For paper receipts that you accumulate you can tame the paper beast by scanning them and filing them on your computer as well. You can also use a product called Neat Receipts. It scans, analyzes and organizes your receipts, bills and other papers and then sends everything electronically to a database on your computer. Following the tips above will almost certainly reduce the amount of clutter and needless waste in your life when it comes to matters of finance.

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Alexis Rodrigo