The Need for Financial Translation Services

Has it ever struck you that Ugandan banks could be alienating potential customers by not considering financial translation services and having their transactions done in the English language? Every Ugandan bank you go to has its receipts written in English. In fact even most of the tellers and other staff in these banks speak only the official national language – English.

It’s ironic that banks that are at the forefront of preaching the gospel of developing a savings culture are the ones doing all their official business in the English language yet they know that most Ugandans are not well-educated and even some of those who have attained formal education up to university level are still not fluent with the Queen’s language and prefer communicating in the local languages.

This situation in Uganda’s financial sector justifies the urgent need for financial translation services. In the capital city, Kampala, the local newspaper Bukkedde sells more copies everyday than Daily Monitor and New Vision. Even in western Uganda, Orumuri newspaper which is written in Runyankole-Rukiga sells like hotcakes because people generally prefer reading something written in their mother tongues.

This also explains why the glut of radio and television stations that saturate our country since the liberalisation of media in early 1990s are popular for broadcasting in local languages. Radio stations like Sanyu Fm, Radio One, and Capital Fm (to mention only three) which broadcast exclusively in the English language are only popular among the urban elite who are the minority compared to stations like CBS in Buganda or Radio West in Mbarara who have more listeners but broadcast in the local languages.

Need for a paradigm shift

It goes without saying that we need a paradigm shift in Uganda’s financial sector as far as communications is concerned. Those who cannot speak English language fluently don’t deserve to miss out on messages of financial and economic empowerment. Thus the time is now for banks and other financial businesses to hire financial language translators to always translate their documents into local languages for accessibility of those not articulate in the English language. Other translation services offered in various languages include;

Oromo translation services

Kinyarwanda translation services

Malagasy translation services

Somali translation services

Kirundi translation services

Chewa translation services

Tigrinya translation services among many others.

The other day a lady from one of the big insurance companies in Kampala came to persuade me to sign up for one of their educational insurance packages. She was Ugandan with a Ugandan name but she was speaking fast like a rapper and in a foreign accent that made it hard for me to grasp what she was saying. I asked her to speak in Luganda but she said she was not fluent in it though she was born and raised in Buganda. In the end I never signed up for the package she was selling because I just could not keep up with her foreign accent and fast speech.

This is another example of how the language barrier is costing business owners and financial corporations many potential customers. The proletariat who are the majority would rather keep their money in piggy banks or stash it under their mattresses than save it with banks because the banks and other companies are not speaking the language these ordinary folks understand. If they did, many banks would be booming because many people would be saving with them and we would have a robust economy. As a common saying goes, a word for the wise is enough!

5 Benefits of Financial Technology

Financial technology (also referred to as FinTech) is the use of innovative technology to deliver a wide range of financial products and services. It is intended to facilitate the multi-channel, convenient and fast payment experience for the consumer. This type of technology is effective in many different business segments, such as mobile payments, investment management, money transfer, fund-raising and lending.

The rapid growth of financial technology has been very beneficial for consumers worldwide, such as the ability to serve customers that were not previously attended to, a reduction in costs, and an increase in competition.

Let’s take a look at a few of the benefits related to financial technology:

Better payment systems – this type of technology can make a business more accurate and efficient at issuing invoices and collecting payment. Also, the more professional service will help to improve customer relations which can increase the likelihood of them returning as a repeat buyer.

Rate of approval – many small business ventures are starting to use the alternative lenders like those involved in financial technology because it has the potential to increase accessibility and speed up the rate of approval for finance. In many situations the application process and time to receive the capital can be completed within a period of 24 hours.

Greater convenience – the companies involved in financial technology make full use of mobile connectivity. This can significantly increase the number of people who can access this type of service and also increase the efficiency and convenience of transactions. With consumers given the option to use smartphones and tablets to manage their finances, it is possible for a business to streamline its service and provide a better all-round customer experience.

Efficient advice – many of the latest systems rely on robo-advice to give people guidance on their finances. This can be a very quick and low-cost option to get useful information on investments, as well as to limit a person’s exposure to risk. However, this type of service won’t be able to give the most in-depth advice that would come from a professional adviser.

Advanced security – Using the latest security methods is necessary to ensure more people are confident in using this type of financial service. The need to harness the latest mobile technologies has resulted in a major investment in security to ensure customer data is kept safe. A few of the latest security options used by those in this sector include biometric data, tokenization and encryption.

Financial Planning Service Companies – Why Select the Best?

The world without any considerable doubt can be easily considered as one big market. Trade and business are the only two things that keep the world running. Yes, there are inventions and discoveries as well, but they are also traded to get through with an ample amount of profit.

People can easily come around with one or the other form of business. Either they own it or work for it. Each of these businesses thus has their financial statements and records. Without these, the business may well disappear.

There are many forms of finances that a person might practically have to deal with. There are the mutual fund investments. There are the hedge funds and many more. There are many best financial services companies that are present nowadays that help people.

These financial services companies ensure of the very fact that people do get the best results from the business that they are in. There are various advantages that people may enjoy if they hire the financial service companies.

Financial planning:
Before moving further on the topic, people should understand that what exactly is the financial planning? This is something that can help people in a long course of time and thus help in managing the finances the best.

Why Recruit the Financial Service Companies?
There are many reasons why a person should think of hiring these services. Financial services can be well considered as one of the very important services, and the following are the various advantages that the companies providing them can guarantee:

• Consulting: Yes! The financial consultancy services are one of those most important things that are necessary before any decision to invest. Consulting helps in various things. People can ensure that they are getting through with the most important knowledge of finance and these companies do provide with that.
• Taking Care: the main aim is to take care of each and every financial gains and loss in the company. Evaluating them and taking the necessary actions. These can be done by the professionals only, and this is the only reason why people should ensure that they do have one of these financial companies to aid them.

Apart from these two important advantages that people can come around with they should also ensure that there will be much more advantages if people select the best ones for themselves. Only the very top financial services companies can ensure of the fact that the best services will be provided.

The following are the best advantages of recruiting the top notch services:
Free Services: The top financial service companies believe in the very fact that the people can only get the very best of the results if they do have a hope in the fact that their services by no means are frauds. This is the exact reason why they provide the people with the various free financial planning services.

Varied Services: This is again one of the major advantages of the top notch companies. The very first thing is that each and every company that is top notch is there because of the excellent knowledge that they do possess. They believe in the fact that the various services that they will provide ill attract the customer’s attention. They have knowledge about various things like portfolio management.

Creation of The Portfolio: This is something that cannot be achieved excellently just by any company. Only the top notch ones will work the best to provide with absolutely marvellous results on the portfolio. They will change as well as customize them according to the customers. Also, they will help in managing them.

7 Signs of a Decaying Financial Portfolio Management System

One of the biggest threats that most Portfolio Managers face is the prevalence of legacy systems.

Over the past three decades, investment advisors have been empowered by the advent of technology from simple spreadsheets to complex home-grown systems. From that time to the present, the industry has seen exponential growth and with it, enormous complexity. Challenges include round-the-clock trading in markets from New York to Sydney, varying accounting standards, shortened settlement cycles, and of course, increased regulation and security issues to name a few. As if that were not enough, technology seems to change every day leaving many legacy systems struggling to keep up with customer demands. Cheaper, faster, smarter, and more efficient norms are expected – they cannot be the exception. Failing systems can sharply undermine your company’s ability to service its customers and maintain its market share, much less grow the business.

In this age of big data, business intelligence, and data analytics, legacy systems can represent a massive risk to your business. If day-to-day operations require the ability to manage process, distribute, and accurately report financial data, being behind the curve is not an option. If this sounds familiar, it is time to ask, “How did we get here?” and more importantly “How do we get out?”

Here are the seven signs that will tell you if you have a decaying system and how it must ideally operate:

1. Facing difficulties while managing data due to disparate systems?

Maintaining data in different systems or manually moving move data from one system to another will lead to inconsistency and errors. Is your data quickly identifiable, consistent across multiple systems, complete, accurate, and reconciled among different systems? If your answer is a NO to these questions, you must reevaluate your platform. Your system must be able to eliminate manual data flow, update all the data with a single change, deliver timely and accurate reporting including intra-day, and make data easily traceable.

2. Are your client communications professional?

Investors expect your reporting to be clear, concise, and highly customized to their needs. This statement holds especially true for institutional investors. Organizations that can meet these expectations will have an immense competitive advantage over those that cannot. If your current system does not deliver the level of reporting your clients expect, you will run the risk of falling behind.

Your client expectations are not limited to the form and content of reporting, but also to how you deliver information. They expect instant access to real-time information, be it through a web portal or a mobile platform to stay relevant and highly competitive, your systems must be flexible enough to send and receive communications via any channel of your client’s choosing.

3. Struggling to cope with complex global investments?

Dealing with multiple regional and global investment regulations such as UCITS V and VI, Solvency II, AIFMD, and EMIR is a daunting task. All these regulations require you to maintain reliable, accurate, and transparent data. To comply with these regulations, you need Workflow Management, Data Management, and accurate reporting. Data, managing risk, and maintaining accuracy is critical to comply with regulatory reporting requirements.

With the increase in data sources and data complexities, your organizations need solution providers who can help you manage your data. Your system must not only be scalable but also provide actionable business intelligence in a format that is easily understood.

4. Finding it hard to achieve Integration of disparate systems?

Real integration is not a matter of simply connecting systems – your systems must be able to talk to each other seamlessly. Manually moving data from one system to another affects your efficiency, thereby, increasing the risk of errors. Integrating disparate systems not only reduces these risks but also improves efficiency by ensuring that back office and front office personnel can view transactions, cash positions, and holdings identically. This ensures that the entries are recorded accurately in your Investment Book of Records (IBOR).

Many organizations use multiple systems for accounting, reporting, reconciliation and managing client information. If different vendors have provided these systems, making them talk to each other could be a challenging process. If you have workarounds or portfolios that reside outside of your legacy system, it is time to rethink its usability. Your system must allow centralized and standardized portfolio management activity. In an end-to-end portfolio management solution that is built on open architecture, the work of multiple systems is consolidated into a single platform. Such a solution will allow easy access to third-party systems or any other system that is built in-house, thereby enabling you to reduce technology footprint while driving greater efficiency.

5. Escalating legal and compliance costs?

A 2013 survey of Chief Technology Officers suggests that one of the biggest operations and technology challenges that asset managers face is to comply with the current and future regulatory requirements. The complex regulations make outdated reporting systems more of a liability than an asset. The compliance costs of regulations such as AIFMD, UCITS V, and VI, or FATCA-are overtaking many budgets. Additionally, aggregating data from different systems for compliance reporting is a risky and resource-consuming process. To reduce these risks and costs simultaneously, your system must be prepared to deliver consolidated reporting, by leveraging automation, integration, and standardization of data from various sources. Your systems must also eliminate the manual compilation of data for reporting, thereby increasing efficiency and cutting associated compliance labor costs while ensuring integrity, consistency, and reducing your operating risk.

6. Being scrutinized by Investors’ due diligence?

After surviving the global economic crisis of 2008, institutional investors have become extremely wary of due diligence, leading to immense scrutiny of operations. The 2008 crisis exposed operational risks – the risk of failure that not only involved market forces but also the lack of infrastructure and controls. Investors have also become increasingly tech-savvy; they are asking the right questions and know what to find. To remain competitive in this vital market, your system must stand up to the intense investor scrutiny. You must show that you have the controls in place to manage the risks efficiently and that you are already adhering to well-organized processes. If Investors sense any gaps in your workflow and find that you are dependent on manual processes and workarounds, they will take their money elsewhere.

7. Legacy systems are not supported, serviced, or enhanced in the way you expect?

A product is only as good as its provider. Is you provider paying enough attention to you after the sale with 24/7 support? Does your provider have a track record of continuous product updates? Do they provide product training? Are they attentive to your suggestions or new ideas? Your provider must provide long-term support if you want your new system to last. Your product must be scalable, flexible, and must be built on open source technologies. In addition, your provider must not only help you set up but also ensure that your systems perform optimally without any disruptions. A relationship is a two-way street; as such, providers must be able to respond to your issues quickly, and also help your business adopt new functionality as and when it is needed.

E-Invoicing in 7 Steps

Step One: Know your ‘as-is’ process:

I knew all too well in my days of selling e-invoicing, that if a prospect didn’t know their ‘as-is’ process, they were a good 12 to 24 months from implementing e-invoicing. So don’t skip Step One.

If you don’t know your process, you probably don’t know key metrics like your First Time Match Rate. This means you won’t know the degree to which e-invoicing might help you (and you may have problems in your process which need other solutions, as well).

And, you probably don’t know the true cost of your invoicing process, and therefore will not be able to put together a water-tight business case.

By mapping out your ‘as is’ process you will come to understand:

Why invoices fail
How e-invoicing can remedy problems in your process flow
How many invoices would be ‘in scope’ should you proceed with e-invoicing
What your ‘as-is’ cost is, and how much it will go down by moving to electronic
How many days it’s currently taking to process an invoice, and how e-invoicing would reduce the time
How, by reducing the number of days, your capturing of negotiated discounts might be favorably effected

Step One is likely to take you 3 to 6 months, but by the end of it you’ll be clearer and more realistic when you make your business case.

Importantly, knowing your cost-per-transaction is essential for negotiating effectively with the provider you end up signing.

Step Two: Know the vision of the company:

Process change makes sense to stakeholders when it is contextualized against the overarching ambitions of the company.

This means it’s worth taking the time to understand where the company wants to be in 6, 12 or 24 months’ time, and you can extrapolate that intention back to how e-invoicing might accelerate or bolster the realization of that goal. Take the time to lift yourself from the ‘day to day’ and understand where the company is headed. (Ask lots of questions, and really listen to the answers.) Then you can:

Understand and communicate the wider purpose of e-invoicing and position e-invoicing as a key enabler for realizing goals
Use the language of the senior management to present e-invoicing back to them
Move e-invoicing up the priority list

This endeavor requires planning, and an investment of time outside your day job, but it will pay off down the road, when your CFO and CPO and CTO (Chief Treasury Officer) see e-invoicing as their single point of failure.

Step Three: Get procurement on board early

This is easier for an organization where Finance and Procurement are already aligned, already share reporting lines and objectives, and operate as one team.

But in organizations where this ‘joined-upness’ doesn’t exist, it’s common for Finance to own the project, because they get the more immediate gains, and involve Procurement almost as an afterthought. This can kill the project on the spot.

This is largely because e-invoicing is a supplier-focused program, and even though Finance, or rather Accounts Payable, pays suppliers, they are actually owned by Procurement. This means suppliers will listen to Procurement regarding the e-invoicing project first, and finance second. So if procurement are not brought in, or are at all dismissive of e-invoicing, your suppliers will feel this mood, and drag their heels in signing up.

This is perhaps the key to getting e-invoicing right, and so easily overlooked as a small detail. It’s not. It will make – or catastrophically break – your project.

When working with Procurement, consider the following:

Drivers – why are we doing e-invoicing?
Scope – all suppliers, invoice types, AP transaction types, countries?
Solution scope – just e-invoicing or an end to end solution?
Message – mandatory or optional?
Quality of the database – will the comms ‘land on the right desk’?
Signatory – how senior will the signatories be? The CPO and the CFO? (Ideally, yes.)
Targets – are Finance and Procurement KPI’d on the same targets?
The non-compliant – who will respond to the suppliers that resist?
Who will own the project? Perhaps Finance and Procurement together?

Investing time in seeking out a partnership from Procurement early on is fundamental to a successful project.

Step Four: Give the project a name

You will likely find that the nameless projects stay in project status for a long time, and rarely move to operational or ‘go live’. This is not a coincidence.

By giving your e-invoicing project both a pre- and post- contract name, you:

Give it an identity which helps people ‘get it’
Create interest and curiosity (‘what is this Globe project everyone’s talking about?’)
Avoid confusion because you’re all talking about the same thing
Heighten engagement and inspire greater emotional attachment, especially, I find, if you stay away from the obvious like Globe, Probe, e-Procurement Project – all decent names, but how about something more fun, like names of characters from movies or fiction? Or having a competition (with a really good prize) to come up with the most creative name?

Step Five: Know what you’re shopping for

What do you want? Is it a best-of-breed e-invoicing solution? Is it e-invoicing with dynamic discounting? Is it e-invoicing with workflow and routing, or an e-procurement functionality for your upstream procurement process? Do you need it to be VAT compliant and language sensitive because you are rolling out across multiple countries? And do you need to use their onboarding capabilities? (This is always advisable.)

Knowing what you want, and then capturing these requirements in a document is key.

You will have:

Commercial and business requirements
Process requirements
Scope requirements (impacting the legal treatment and the languages supported)
IT requirements (but these are probably weighted lightly, as all e-invoicing solutions I know of are system agnostic)
Resource or/and timing requirements

Then make sure that the companies you invite to respond to the RFP all offer similar-ish services, so you are not comparing one solution type against another completely different solution type in order to make a decision.

10 Rules for Composing Terms and Conditions for Your Invoices

Solid terms and conditions for your invoices are extremely important for your small business. If your invoices are complicated to understand or confusing to read, you may do some severe damage to your cash flow. Why? Mainly because if the client can’t understand your invoice they’re not going just pay. Your client wants to be sure that they’re being priced the proper amount of the goods or services that they requested.

1. Start thinking about all potential legal problems and scenarios.

The first thing that you must do before writing down your terms and conditions is to list all the probable legal obstacles or circumstances that could happen.

As an example:

What measures will you take if the client does not pay the invoice?
What will happen if you’re past due on delivering your services or products or service to the customer?
What will you do if the client is dissatisfied with your goods and services?
What will happen if the product or service is damaged when being provided by your client’s delivery service?
Are there any incentives if your customers pay beforehand?
What kind of rate of interest would you like to charge for late payments?
What if the customer is interested to renegotiate the contract just after the two parties agree to the terms and conditions?
Can your customer request a reimburse? If it does, what scenarios would allow for this?
What will happen if the scope of the work becomes wider?
If there was a misestimate on a budget or quote, who is going to pay for it?
Who is responsible if a product breaks after being bought?
What strategy will you undertake it the agreement or contract is terminated?

It might take a little time to think about and formulate this list, but as soon as you have got all of this written down you will be in a position to write future conditions and terms in a flash with the other clients that you will add to your client list. Most importantly, having the most appropriate terms and conditions for your firm will ensure that you are compensated and take care of your business if legal action is ever undertaken.

2. PROVIDE ALL CRUCIAL PARTS OF AN INVOICE.

Featuring the all-important elements of an invoice isn’t going to only speed-up the payment process, it will also answer whatever questions that the client has with regards to the goods or services that you provided for them.

When generating invoices, ensure that that you include:

Your logo
Invoice number
Your contact information
Your client’s contact information
The due date
The products or services you provided and their costs
The forms of payment that you accept
Early payment invoice discounts or enforce late fees

Before mailing out the invoice, ensure that all the information is right and that it’s being sent to the correct person. Any errors can easily slow-up the payment process and make you appear less professional.

3. CLEARLY EXPLAIN THE PRODUCTS/SERVICES BEING PROVIDED OR SCOPE OR THE PROJECT.

This is certainly the most relevant part of the terms and conditions on your invoice. Why? Because it describes what particularly the client is paying you for.

Like for example, if you are hired to make an internet-site for a client and it’s more than the client has imagined, having a description of the time and expenses it cost you to finish job answers any kind of questions or doubts relating to the final sum of the invoice.

4. SHORTEN YOUR PAYMENT TERMS

This should be {is kind of} obvious, but when you give customers a lot of time to make a payment, the longer it takes for you to get paid, which in turns leads to a slower cash flow.

So if you have a customer 45 days to pay an invoice, for instance, and that customer paid you a couple of weeks late, that means you’ve waited 2 whole months to receive a payment.

A payment term of 30 days or even less is the standard when it comes to invoicing simply because it’s helpful in keeping the cash flowing. Nevertheless, review your industry’s invoice standards and check with the client when their pay cycle runs. These factors can help you establish your payment terms.

5. HIGHLIGHT GUARANTEES AND WARRANTIES

It is not unusual for any business that is selling goods and services too often give guarantees and warranties. It makes them look more legit and reputable and gives the customer assurance. If you do provide a guarantee or warranty, make sure that is clearly outlined in your terms and conditions.

Never forget to address topics like situations where the client/customer loses their guarantee or warranty.

6. PURSUE LATE PAYMENTS.

Generally, there will be times when customers won’t pay invoices by the due date. Instead of being passive, you need to be persistent by tracking down those particular late payments.

Regularly keep track of your customers’ payment due dates and get in contact with them by telephone, e-mail, or mail if they have not paid you by the due date and feature late-fee terms on your invoices, like charging interest on over due payments – which a trusted cloud-based invoicing software will do for you automatically.

In case you can’t get a hold of the late-paying client, or they are not responsive to follow-ups, you may possibly have to send a collection letter, hire a collection agency, or take them to court. Make all of this information crystal clear from the beginning.

7. ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL.

Be sure that your terms are specifically created for your business. Remember, your business does not have the identical requirements, resources, and clients that other businesses have. Because of this you can’t really just copy and paste the terms and conditions from a commonly used template or another business considering that they probably won’t address your particular needs.

A template is really good for starting and directing you in the right directions, but ultimately you have to write terms and conditions that best match your business and clientele.

8. ALWAYS BE PROFESSIONAL AND POLITE.

Being polite can have a beneficial influence on your business. Simply adding a phrase such as kindly pay your invoice within twenty-one days” or “thank you for your business” can, in fact, increase the number of invoices getting paid by more than 5 percent! This may not sound like much, but this can result in thousands of us dollars per year right into your banking account.
Aside from assisting you get paid faster, being professional and polite can easily make improvements to your brand’s image.

9. MAKE THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS UNCOMPLICATED TO READ.

Keep the language in your conditions and terms simplified and intuitive. Put yourself in the shoes of your clients’ customers and realize that they’re not all familiar with industry terminology and even bookkeeping terms, like for example “net 30.”

Additionally, don’t aim to hide every single thing on just one page by using a small font so that your clients are not able to read the fine print. It will look tricky to your client and will ruin your reputation (regardless if there is nothing tricky on your invoice).

10. WHEN IN DOUBT, ASK FOR HELP.

When all else fails to perform as expected, or you wind up in a sophisticated or specialized situation, don’t hesitate to seek guidance from your mentor, fellow business managers, or your attorney. These are individuals that have experience in writing terms and conditions and are more acquainted with laws and regulations then you are.

Financial Skills – How to Budget & Balance Accounts

I was surprised when I asked parents to tell me the life skills they wish their kids knew, and there was a resounding request for a few topics:

How to open a bank account
How to budget & balance accounts
How to write checks and pay bills
And how to start saving for retirement

It seems some of the things we take for granted are, as a result, missing from what we teach kids.

In the last article, we focused on opening a bank account. This article is the second article in the four-part series and will look at how to teach kids to budget and balance their accounts.

Budgeting

It’s not shock that budgeting can be boring and tedious. I’ve personally never been excited to sit down and create my budgets, but it’s something that creates wealth and pays off down the road.

So how do you get kids excited about it? How can you add a little glamour to something so dull and boring? Easy – make it a game with payoffs.

Firstly, it’s important to know how to create a budget, then to adhere to the budget.

Creating a Budget

You may have your own way to create a budget, and that’s fine. In my experience, the easiest way to make a budget is as follows:

On a piece of paper, draw a line down the middle:

Spending BudgetCalculate your average monthly gross income and put that at the top of the page, then multiply it by.80 (for example, if you earned $1,000, you would end up with $800)
Fixed ExpensesWrite down all of your FIXED expense categories (i.e. phone bill, insurance, mortgage etc… ) and put them in one column on the left side of the page
Variable ExpensesNext write in the variable expense categories (i.e. food, gas, leisure, etc… ) and put them in another column on the right side of the page
Fill in all of your expenses
Net Budget after Fixed Expenses – Subtract fixed expenses from your spending budget If it’s a positive number, you don’t need to change anything If it’s zero or a negative number, you should look for expenses that you can cut or lower
Budget variable expenses – Using your Net Budget after fixed expenses, determine what you can spend on variable expenses without overspending each month
Set a budget for each variable expense so you know what you can spend on each category in a given month

Making it Fun

OK, now that you have a budget outline, it’s time to get the kids excited.

I know what you’re thinking: “My kids will never be excited for this.”

They will if you give them some prizes or payoffs. Here’s how:

First, tell them what a budget is and show them the paper. Next, tell them that you’re going to do a contest (if you have more than one kid, this works even better).

Contest 1: Anticipating Spending

The first contest is to see how close they can budget their money to reach a break-even or $0 over the course of a month. In other words, the goal is to predict your spending as close to the penny as possible.

If you have more than one kid person that gets the closest to break-even without going negative wins a prize. With just one kid, tell them that they get $5 or $10 if they reach break-even, and every penny they are off, you deduct 10ȼ

Contest 2 – Saving After Spending

The second contest is to see how well they can budget their money over the next 30 days. If they can save money, tell them you will give them whatever they save. That means if they save $5, you’ll give them another $5 (just like companies matching a person’s 401K contribution).

If you have more than one kid, tell them whoever is able to save the most will win and get a special prize. You will obviously choose the prize since you know your kids best.

Three Ideas for Spring Cleaning Your Finances

Your taxes have just been filed and now it’s time for spring cleaning – clearing out the dirt and clutter in your homes and work space to allow for a chore-free summer. Why not also use this opportunity to “clean” up your finances? With a little annual clean-up and our three ideas, you can keep your current financial situation well-organized, streamlined and up-to-date.

Clear the document clutter

We are all human and sometimes accumulate piles of important documents and statements. Now is the time to look through your financial documents and consider which to keep and which to discard. Keep recurring documents, such as investment and bank statements, property and casualty insurance renewals or social security and retirement statements, for one year. You need only keep household bills and credit card statements until you have a record that the bill was paid (unless you need these statements as evidence for tax filing or proof of purchase). Shred all outdated and unnecessary statements.

Try organizing your saved documents into a folder with the newest date on top. This way, if you go looking for a specific document, you won’t shuffle through a year’s worth of back up. Maybe, you prefer storing everything digitally. If so, consider naming folders starting with the year, followed by the two-digit month and ending with the name of the institution or document. This keeps the files sorted in an easy, chronological order. Remember, all electronic files should be backed up regularly, whether stored locally or in the cloud. These days, there are plenty of that will sync your devices and securely back up your storage.

When you pare down and keep only what is necessary – for tax purposes and tracking financial records – you’ll have less clutter and a better understanding of what is in your possession.

Consolidate retirement accounts

How many retirement accounts have you accumulated? Throughout your career, you may have switched employers and acquired multiple retirement accounts. You’re not alone: Many people have aging 401(k)s, IRAs and other retirement accounts of convenience. Talk about financial clutter! Now is a great time to consolidate these. IRAs, SEP IRAs and SIMPLE IRAs can all be consolidated into a single IRA. (Roth IRAs can only combine with other Roth IRAs.) Old 401(k)s can also be rolled into your IRA. When distributing an old 401(k) into your IRA, be sure to review the investment options and expenses in the 401(k) as compared to what is available in your IRA. Combining multiple accounts, may save you fees and most certainly will save you paperwork. Most importantly, you and your advisor can more easily and strategically invest your retirement account for today and the future. When it comes time to take withdrawals, calculations and taxes will be much easier as well.

Update your critical information

Finally, as you begin to clear the financial clutter, you may have various accounts and people who have changed since the last time you organized. That’s why this is a great time to record all your critical information in one central location. We like to call this your critical records organizer. If you already have your information in one organizer, maybe your information is outdated or professionals have changed. Use this spring cleaning time to review the information and make updates. If you have never organized your important information, you should include all your current account numbers, access information and professional contacts. You might like to keep this information in hard copy or choose a mobile app (such as 1Password) or cloud-based document service (such as Dropbox). Creating a central location of this information is not only useful for you each year, it might become critical for your family. You might have account information and professionals in your life that you interact with, but the rest of your family may not know how to contact. Once you update and organize your critical information, remember to let the important people in your family know where they can find this information for the future.

Spring cleaning your finances doesn’t have to be an exhausting process. By keeping important account statements in one place, tossing recurring documents, and shredding unnecessary or outdated personal paperwork, you can clear the document clutter in your life. Consolidating multiple accounts that have lingered over time, will bring you fresh confidence and control over your nest egg, and updating your information in a central location keeps you protected for the future.