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One Year to an Organized Financial Life: From Your Bills to Your Bank Account, Your Home to Your Retirement, the Week-by-Week Guide to Achieving Financial Peace of Mind

Book Description

Do you constantly feel anxious about money? Have unopened credit card statements piled up on your countertop? Are you forever losing receipts for items you meant to return? In an economic downturn taking charge of your financial well-being is more crucial than ever. One Year to an Organized Financial Life is a unique week-by-week plan to make saving money simple, automatic, and stress-free.

For decades, professional organizer Regina Leeds and financial advisor Russell Wild have helped thousands of clients get their lives in order. Using Leeds’s “Zen organizing” approach, which addresses the underlying causes of chaos and replaces them with routines, they now show readers the steps to improving finances within a manageable timeframe. From sticking to a budget to getting out of debt, curbing spending to maximizing retirement savings, One Year to an Organized Financial Life makes it possible for anyone to live more richly on less.

Table of Contents

  1. Praise
  2. ALSO BY REGINA LEEDS
  3. Title Page
  4. Dedication
  5. Introduction
  6. 1. JANUARY - Take Control
    1. HABIT OF THE MONTH: DRINK WATER
    2. TOOL OF THE MONTH: A FINANCIAL NOTEBOOK
    3. WEEK ONE - Uncover the Origins of Your Relationship with Money
      1. ESTABLISHING YOUR FINANCIAL GOALS
      2. EXAMINING YOUR PAST
      3. THE ORACLE OF BROOKLYN
      4. MOVING FORWARD
      5. DRAWING CONCLUSIONS
    4. WEEK TWO - Clean Out What You Carry
      1. ORGANIZING YOUR WALLET, PURSE, AND TOTE
      2. ORGANIZING YOUR BRIEFCASE OR LAPTOP BAG
      3. TOSSING IT: THE GOODIE BAG
      4. CONTINUING TO CLEAN OUT
    5. WEEK THREE - Streamline Your Home Office Space
      1. ASSESSING YOUR WORK SPACE
      2. CLEANING YOUR WORK SPACE: PHASE ONE
      3. CLEANING YOUR WORK SPACE: PHASE TWO
      4. DEALING WITH A DUAL SPACE
      5. ADDING THE FINAL TOUCHES
    6. WEEK FOUR - Set Up a Financial File System
      1. BUYING THE BASICS
      2. GETTING STARTED
      3. GROUPING INFORMATION YOUR WAY
      4. CREATING ACTION FILES
      5. KEEPING A REFERENCE BINDER
      6. KEEPING DOCUMENTS FOREVER
      7. REWARDING YOURSELF
      8. JANUARY SUMMARY
  7. 2. FEBRUARY - Assess Your Finances
    1. HABIT OF THE MONTH: DECLUTTER
    2. TOOL OF THE MONTH: MEDITATION
    3. WEEK ONE - Pay Your Bills on Time
      1. DEALING WITH MAIL
      2. PAYING YOUR BILLS IN DIFFERENT WAYS
    4. WEEK TWO - Determine Your Income and Fixed Expenses
      1. CALCULATING YOUR INCOME
      2. CALCULATING YOUR FIXED COSTS
      3. DETERMINING YOUR JOB SECURITY
    5. WEEK THREE - Determine Your Variable Expenses
      1. KNOWING THE HAZARDS OF ESTIMATING
      2. CALCULATING YOUR VARIABLE COSTS
    6. WEEK FOUR - Take a Fresh Look at Your Expenses
      1. PUTTING YOUR BUDGET ON PAPER
      2. BUILDING AN EMERGENCY FUND
      3. MAKING GOOD DECISIONS
      4. REWARDING YOURSELF
      5. FEBRUARY SUMMARY
  8. 3. MARCH - Get Ready for Taxes
    1. HABIT OF THE MONTH: FILE PAPERS
    2. TOOL OF THE MONTH: MUSIC
    3. WEEK ONE - Decide Which Documents to Save
      1. KNOWING WHAT TO KEEP
      2. STORING OLD TAX FILES
    4. WEEK TWO - Stop the Paper Stacks
      1. GATHERING THE STRAYS
      2. SORTING YOUR PAPERS
    5. WEEK THREE - Prepare Your Tax Returns
      1. CHOOSING A TAX PREP METHOD
      2. WORKING WITH TAX PREP SOFTWARE
      3. WORKING WITH A TAX PREPARER
      4. ITEMIZING DEDUCTIONS
      5. FINDING TAX HELP
    6. WEEK FOUR - Signed, Sealed, Delivered
      1. CHECKING FOR ERRORS
      2. SOCKING AWAY THAT TAX REFUND
      3. FEELING IN CONTROL
      4. MARCH SUMMARY
  9. 4. APRIL - Spend Less, Save More
    1. HABIT OF THE MONTH: LOG YOUR SAVINGS
    2. TOOL OF THE MONTH: SLEEP
    3. WEEK ONE - Reduce Your Expenses
      1. REDUCING MONTHLY EXPENSES
      2. WHEN SAVING ISN’T PRUDENT
      3. A PENNY SAVED IS A PENNY EARNED
    4. WEEK TWO - Harness Your Marketability
      1. FINDING A MONEY-MAKING OPPORTUNITY
      2. PUTTING YOUR MONEYMAKING PLAN IN PLACE
      3. DREAMING REALLY CAN MAKE IT SO!
    5. WEEK THREE - Working with Your Budget
      1. AVOIDING BUDGETING MISTAKES
      2. CUTTING EXPENSES IN TWO WAYS
    6. WEEK FOUR - Banking Made Brighter
      1. FINDING THE RIGHT BANK
      2. BANKING SMART
      3. DECIDING WHERE TO STASH YOUR CASH
      4. UNDERSTANDING FDIC INSURANCE
      5. AS APRIL DRAWS TO A CLOSE
      6. APRIL SUMMARY
  10. 5. MAY - Borrow Smart
    1. HABIT OF THE MONTH: SAVE YOUR POCKET CHANGE
    2. TOOL OF THE MONTH: THE DREAM BOARD
    3. WEEK ONE - Lower Your Cost of Credit
      1. CHECKING YOUR CREDIT SCORE
      2. HANDLING CREDIT REPORT ERRORS
      3. INTERPRETING YOUR SCORE
      4. BOOSTING YOUR SCORE
      5. TAKING A BREAK
    4. WEEK TWO - Curb Credit Card Spending
      1. DETERMINING YOUR TOTAL CREDIT CARD DEBT
      2. DISCOVERING THE REASONS FOR CREDIT CARD DEBT
    5. WEEK THREE - Reduce and Rejoice
      1. BRAINSTORMING TO REDUCE DEBT
      2. RUNNING THE NUMBERS
    6. WEEK FOUR - Protect Your Identity
      1. PROTECTING YOURSELF AGAINST FRAUD
      2. TAKING ACTION IF THE UNTHINKABLE HAPPENS
      3. CLEARING THE DEBT DECK
      4. MAY SUMMARY
  11. 6. JUNE - Build a Nest Egg
    1. HABIT OF THE MONTH: READ ABOUT INVESTING
    2. TOOL OF THE MONTH: FRIENDSHIP
    3. WEEK ONE - Establish a Retirement Plan
      1. BUILDING A PORTFOLIO: THE BASICS
      2. UNDERSTANDING RETIREMENT ACCOUNT LIMITS
    4. WEEK TWO - Calculate How Much You Need to Save
    5. WEEK THREE - Assess How Much Risk You Can Afford
      1. UNDERSTANDING RISK RATIO
      2. DIVERSIFYING
    6. WEEK FOUR - Max Out Where It Pays
      1. THE GOLDEN MATCHING 401(K)
      2. TRADITIONAL 401(K) VERSUS ROTH 401(K)
      3. MAKE YOUR MONEY WORK FOR YOU
      4. JUNE SUMMARY
  12. 7. JULY - Make Long-Range Financial Plans
    1. HABIT OF THE MONTH: GO GREEN
    2. TOOL OF THE MONTH: REWARDS
    3. WEEK ONE - Decide Whether You Need a Financial Advisor
      1. HIRING A FINANCIAL ADVISOR
      2. EVALUATING POTENTIAL INVESTMENTS
      3. TOP TEN TIPS FOR INVESTING ON YOUR OWN
      4. GETTING INVOLVED
    4. WEEK TWO - Maintain Your Portfolio
      1. REBALANCING YOUR PORTFOLIO
      2. SUMMARIZING THE POINTS OF PORTFOLIO MAINTENANCE
    5. WEEK THREE - Draw Up a Will and Trust
      1. WRITING A WILL
      2. SETTING UP A TRUST
      3. PROVIDING FOR THE CARE OF YOUR CHILDREN
      4. MAKING FUNERAL ARRANGEMENTS
      5. THE FINAL FAREWELL
    6. WEEK FOUR - Review Your Beneficiary Forms
      1. CHANGING BENEFICIARIES
      2. TAKING CHARGE OF YOUR ESTATE
      3. CHANGING OUR FOCUS
      4. JULY SUMMARY
  13. 8. AUGUST - Refinance and Downsize Options
    1. HABIT OF THE MONTH: WRITE IT DOWN
    2. TOOL OF THE MONTH: FANTASY STOCK PICKS
    3. WEEK ONE - Look for Downsizing Opportunities
      1. DEFINING DOWNSIZING POSITIVELY
      2. DOWNSIZING YOUR HOME
      3. LETTING GO OF STATUS ITEMS
      4. NEGOTIATING
      5. DOWNSIZING YOUR TRANSPORTATION
      6. THE ROAD TO FREEDOM
    4. WEEK TWO - Clear the Clutter, Room by Room
      1. UNEARTHING A HIDDEN STASH OF CASH
      2. FINDING TEMPORARY STORAGE
      3. CLEANING THE CLUTTER
      4. REWARDING YOURSELF
    5. WEEK THREE - Hold a Yard Sale
      1. STEP ONE: DECIDING WHAT TO SELL
      2. STEP TWO: CREATING CATEGORIES
      3. STEP THREE: CONSIDERING YOUR LOCATION
      4. STEP FOUR: ESTABLISHING A MARKETING PLAN
      5. STEP FIVE: SETTING PRICES
      6. STEP SIX: PLANNING YOUR PHYSICAL SETUP
      7. STEP SEVEN: CLEANING UP
      8. USING CRAIGSLIST AND EBAY
      9. THE BOTTOM LINE
    6. WEEK FOUR - Determine If You Should Refinance
      1. LEARNING REFINANCING BASICS
      2. RESEARCHING REFINANCING COSTS
      3. DETERMINING THE X FACTOR
      4. PREPAYING YOUR MORTGAGE
      5. UNDERSTANDING SECOND MORTGAGES AND HELOCS
      6. UNDERSTANDING REVERSE MORTGAGES
      7. AUGUST SUMMARY
  14. 9. SEPTEMBER - Children and Money
    1. HABIT OF THE MONTH: READ ADVERTISEMENTS CAREFULLY
    2. TOOL OF THE MONTH: A MONEY MANAGEMENT BINDER FOR CHILDREN
    3. WEEK ONE - Frugality for Parents
      1. SPENDING MORE TIME WITH YOUR CHILDREN
      2. TEACHING CHILDREN ABOUT MONEY
      3. LAYING THE GROUNDWORK
    4. WEEK TWO - Educate Your Children about Money
      1. TEACHING CHILDREN AGE-APPROPRIATE MONEY LESSONS
      2. DESCRIBING THE EFFECTS OF A RECESSION
    5. WEEK THREE - Save for College
      1. UNDERSTANDING 529 COLLEGE PLANS
      2. CHOOSING A 529 PLAN
      3. QUALIFYING FOR COLLEGE TUITION TAX BREAKS
    6. WEEK FOUR - How Your Child Can Contribute
      1. FUNDING COLLEGE: THE BASICS
      2. RESEARCHING COLLEGES
      3. INVESTIGATING STATE AID
      4. COMMUNICATING YOUR CHILD’S RESPONSIBILITIES
      5. MANY ROADS LEAD TO ROME
      6. SEPTEMBER SUMMARY
  15. 10. OCTOBER - Protect Your Assets
    1. HABIT OF THE MONTH: PROTECT YOUR HEALTH
    2. TOOL OF THE MONTH: A DIGITAL INVENTORY
    3. WEEK ONE - Medical Insurance
      1. DISTINGUISHING PPOS FROM HMOS
      2. ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS
      3. EXAMINING YOUR CHOICES WHEN YOU HAVE NO COVERAGE
      4. FINDING AN ADVOCATE
    4. WEEK TWO - Homeowner’s and Renter’s Policies
      1. ASSESSING YOUR HOMEOWNER’S POLICY
      2. PERFORMING A HOME INVENTORY
      3. GETTING RENTER’S INSURANCE
    5. WEEK THREE - Disability and Long-Term Care Coverage
      1. UNDERSTANDING DISABILITY INSURANCE
      2. BUYING LONG-TERM CARE INSURANCE
      3. FINDING AN AGENT YOU TRUST
      4. DETERMINING IF YOU NEED LONG-TERM INSURANCE
    6. WEEK FOUR - Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
      1. FINDING OUT ABOUT UNNECESSARY INSURANCES
      2. BUYING AUTO INSURANCE
      3. LOOKING AHEAD
      4. OCTOBER SUMMARY
  16. 11. NOVEMBER - The Season for Sane Spending
    1. HABIT OF THE MONTH: THINK POSITIVELY
    2. TOOL OF THE MONTH: COUPONS
    3. WEEK ONE - Holiday Budget
      1. DECIDING HOW MUCH TO SPEND
      2. GOING BACK TO BASICS
      3. LETTING THE NUMBERS BE YOUR GUIDE
    4. WEEK TWO - Gift-Giving
      1. CREATING A GIFT-GIVING BUDGET
      2. BUYING INEXPENSIVE BUT THOUGHTFUL GIFTS
      3. SHOPPING SMART
      4. IT’S ALWAYS THE SEASON
    5. WEEK THREE - Family Gatherings
      1. PARING EXPECTATIONS, GUEST LISTS, AND MENUS
      2. CREATING A THANKSGIVING BUDGET
      3. UNDERSTANDING THAT TIME IS MONEY
      4. TEACHING AN OLD DOG NEW TRICKS
    6. WEEK FOUR - Holiday Travel
      1. CREATING A TRAVEL BUDGET
      2. FINDING TRAVEL DEALS
      3. STAYING HOME
      4. THE PAUSE THAT REFRESHES
      5. NOVEMBER SUMMARY
    7. 12. DECEMBER - Year-End Money Moves
      1. HABIT OF THE MONTH: GIVE OF YOURSELF
      2. TOOL OF THE MONTH: A FISCAL NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION
    8. WEEK ONE - Tasks for Every December
      1. REVIEWING YOUR TAXES AND DEDUCTIONS
      2. KEEPING YOUR EYE ON THE BOTTOM LINE
    9. WEEK TWO - Tax-Loss Harvesting
      1. FOLLOWING THE STEPS FOR TAX-LOSS HARVESTING
      2. FINE-TUNING THE PROCESS
    10. WEEK THREE - Charitable Giving
      1. CHOOSING A CHARITY
    11. WEEK FOUR - Move Smoothly into the Future
      1. TUNING YOUR FINANCIAL FILES
      2. ACKNOWLEDGING YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS
      3. PREPARING FOR WHAT’S ON THE HORIZON
      4. GOING FROM RAGS TO RICHES
      5. DECEMBER SUMMARY
  17. Acknowledgements
  18. RESOURCES
  19. INDEX
  20. Copyright Page