How I Manage My Finances So I Can Save Time and Worry Less

If you are a new reader, please check out my monthly online income reports where I show you how I make over $30,000 a month while traveling at the same time. Between managing retirement, paying bills, handling credit cards, saving for things in life you want and more, managing your financial life can get difficult. Due…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: May 26, 2023

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How To Manage Your Finances Effectively And Save Time And StressIf you are a new reader, please check out my monthly online income reports where I show you how I make over $30,000 a month while traveling at the same time.

Between managing retirement, paying bills, handling credit cards, saving for things in life you want and more, managing your financial life can get difficult.

Due to this, I am often looking for ways to make managing my financial life easier since at times handling everything can seem so hectic and stressful.

Making everything simpler and easier means that I can have more time to spend on other areas of my life, and also worry less about what I may be forgetting.

This is why I am creating this article. I believe that if you can learn how to manage your finances effectively as well, you can save a ton of time, have less stress, and focus on the things you truly want to in life.

Managing your finances does not have to be hard, and I want to show everyone that. Too many people give up and let their finances get out of order, when it really does not have to be that hard.

Below is how I manage my finances easily so I can save time and worry less.

 

I automate payments.

You can automate a lot in your life. You can have your paychecks direct deposited, you can auto pay your bills, you can even auto pay your credit card payment each month.

Even though I check through all transactions and expenses, I still automate all of my actual payments so that I never have to worry if something was forgotten about. Most of my monthly expenses are similar from month to month, so I can usually just check the payment to see if everything is correct or not.

Related: How To Simplify Your Financial Life – 12 Best Tips

 

I have one bank account.

Okay, technically we have two – a checking account at our credit union and a savings account as well there. I couldn’t imagine having more than that, whether it be separate accounts for different savings goals or if we had accounts at completely different banks.

Before you think “Don’t most people only have one checking and one savings account?”

That is not true. I personally know a few people who have multiple accounts open. To me, it seems like unnecessary work, but I understand that there are many reasons for doing this.

 

I keep note of credit card signups and rewards.

I have several credit cards so that I can earn credit cards rewards. In the past three months, we have actually signed up for five rewards credit cards (yes, FIVE!) and have earned a decent amount in free vacation and free cash back.

However, it does get stressful to think about all of this. Any normal person would feel stressed in order to manage this many credit cards, in addition to the ones we already have. Because of this, I have a detailed system of what credit card to use when, when I have reached the spending level so that I can earn the full signup bonus reward, and when I’m about to be charged for a credit card’s annual fee. It sounds difficult, but it really is not since I just have reminders set that will automatically remind me.

This leads to the next part…

 

I set reminders in my phone’s calendar so I don’t forget anything.

If there is something coming up that I know I will not remember, I will create a reminder. This makes managing my finances easier because I don’t have to worry about forgetting things or missing payments.

I create reminders for things such as:

  • When it’s time to pay estimated quarterly tax payments.
  • Renewing license plate tags for our cars.
  • Paying semiannual bills, such as car insurance.
  • When discounts and promotions expire, such as for our internet service, so that we can continue to get good deals on the products and services we use.

 

We have combined finances.

I know this option doesn’t work for everyone, and in some instances having separate finances with your spouse is a better option.

However, for us having combined finances works, and has worked for years. This makes everything very simple as we have less accounts to think about.

 

Our retirement is in a diversified fund.

Yup, most of our retirement is in one fund, specifically VTSAX.

It is a diversified fund, so it’s not exactly like all of our eggs are in one basket. Having everything in one diversified fund makes investing for our retirement easy in that I don’t have to waste a ton of time trying to beat the market.

Side note: I highly recommend that you check out Personal Capital if you are interested in gaining control of your financial situation. Personal Capital is very similar to Mint.com, but 100 times better. Personal Capital allows you to aggregate your financial accounts so that you can easily see your financial situation. You can connect accounts such as your mortgage, bank accounts, credit card accounts, investment accounts, retirement accounts, and more, and it is FREE.

 

Ways YOU can learn how to manage your finances more simply.

Of course, there are many other ways you can simplify your financial life.

You can learn how to manage your finances effectively by taking part in the actions below to make your life more simple:

  • Start a cash budget. Dealing with only cash would be very easy as you won’t ever have to worry about making a credit card payment.
  • Get rid of credit cards or slim down. If you are not interested in credit card rewards, then slimming down to just one credit card can save a lot of hassle and time.
  • Pay off your loans. Whether you have student loan debt, credit card debt, car debt, or whatever else, paying it off will help manage your finances easier as you will have less debt causing you stress.
  • Skip the paper bills. I hate receiving wasteful letters in the mail. Instead, I opt for the electronic version of bills whenever I can. This way I just receive an email when something needs to be handled.
  • Create a budget through Excel. This can save you time in that you can easily make changes whenever they need to be made. It’s not as easy to make changes or have a flexible budget when you write it down as eventually it would turn into one sloppy mess.
  • Opt for paying expenses annually or semiannually. Instead of paying for bills like home insurance and car insurance monthly, you might want to look into paying it every six months or once a year. You will probably qualify for a discount if you do this as well. That’s two less bills to worry about each month if you do this!
  • Cut expenses out of your life. Each one you cut out means one less bill to worry about and money saved.

How do you manage your finances to make things easier? Or do you like to make everything hard?


Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. We do a lot of the same things you do – automate payments, combined finances, one account – and it makes life so much easier! Great tips πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks Nicola πŸ™‚

  2. I’m on your side Michelle, I only have one bank account too! I have lots of friends who have three or four bank account and I don’t really know why do that. πŸ™‚ It’s better to concentrate on one bank and keep an eye on it.

    1. I just don’t even get the point of having so many haha!

  3. Everyone seems to enjoy automation. I also do payment automation and it really does relieve stress and I no longer have to worry about my bills. What I only do is just look how much my bill is. How great that is…

    1. Yes, same here Jayson!

  4. Automating payments and skipping paper statements has been such an incredible difference to my “pay the bills” routine. I can literally do everything in about 5 minutes whereas before it could have taken me 30-60 minutes to get everything organized and paid. I love that it makes things so much more efficient.

    1. I agree! It’s a lot of time saved.

  5. Michelle

    This is the perfect time of year for a comprehensive budgeting post like this and I really appreciate it. Trying to follow your advice on a regular basis. One thing we already do that you recommend in the “cutting down on expenses” area is that we don’t have a TV or cable. We watch Netflix on our computers. The gym we belong to (very inexpensive) has a TV with each cardio machine, and the TVs have cable. So if I really want to watch something, I have to go work out. It’s a win-win!

    1. That’s a great idea that you have to work out in order to get your TV fix. Love that!

  6. I am agree that is better to have combined finaces with your spouse, but not alls are agree…however we have siilar things but honestly today started officially my 6 months of shopping ban and the hardest thing probably will : resist to shopping into bookstores and for office supllies!!!

    1. Good luck with your shopping ban πŸ™

  7. All great advice, Michelle. We do much the same. Automating bill payments and having joint accounts has really streamlined things for us. Since our paychecks are direct deposited and most of our bills are auto-paid, we don’t have to mess around much with our money on a daily basis, which is ideal for us.

    1. Sounds like you have a good system!

      Oh yeah, just wanted to say that I already failed my no clothing ban. I bought a $7 dress from a thrift store the other day. However, I did sell $60 to that same store, so maybe I am off the hook for failure? πŸ™‚

      1. I think you’re definitely off the hook ;)!

  8. kammi

    Yikes. I have about eight accounts; sorry. Some have done better than others, but they’re different types of accounts, based in different countries to which I travel. It works for me. Also, I only use one account for online purchases/shopping, so if a card is stopped, it’s never a hassle. Most of my accounts (six out of eight) are actually brokerage/investment accounts, though. I’m pretty good at saving so I don’t need to automate. If anything, I have issues spending too little money, because I’m picky about quality.

    1. I think you have good reasons for having so many accounts. I just don’t understand people who have savings accounts at 10 different banks all in their same town. Not sure what the reason for that would be.

  9. Taylor Lee

    Yeah, I definitely make life hard for myself. I churn so I have tons of CCs. My primary savings account is from a different bank than my primary savings. I do have everything on auto-pay but usually I get so paranoid that I’ll accidentally miss a bill that I end up paying online before the due date anyway.

    One semi-good(?) complicated thing I do which is actually kind of easy and saves me a decent amount of money is rebalance my own index portfolio in accordance with Vanguard’s own target funds. By buying into the individual indices, I end up getting much lower annual fees than the target funds, with essentially the same results.

    1. How many credit cards do you have?

  10. I like the advice at the end to cut expenses (and therefore bills!)

    I have a complicated bank account setup (three checking and six savings for one person!) but it’s all for good tl;dr reasons. A little bit of a pain but useful enough to be worth it.

    On the other hand, I simplify by: having a Mint account so I can see everything in one place; almost exclusively using one cash-back credit card; paying as many bills as possible automatically with that credit card (car insurance); and, like you, having a very simple investment strategy. It all works, although I might cut the number of bank accounts at some point πŸ™‚

    1. As long as it’s useful, then I’m all for it! πŸ™‚

  11. Amy

    I track expenses and liabilities in Excel spread sheets, have one joint checking account, and one joint savings account. Unfortunately, we have balances on several credit cards, so I’m always looking to maximize our payments and minimize interest charges. Retirement accounts is an area where we could use some simplification. Both my husband and I have several 401K/403B accounts, and I have two Roth IRA accounts.

    1. I hope you are able to tackle your debt soon Amy! πŸ™‚

  12. Automating definitely helps! We have multiple accounts; one with my former broker dealer pays all of our fixed expenses (mortgage, etc). Our regular check is for variable expenses (gas, groceries, etc). Then we have a regular savings, which shouldn’t be touched unless an emergency, a separate tax savings account and accounts for the kids savings (cash gifts from Xmas, bday’s, etc). This system works compliments the way my brain works:-) We also merged finances when we got married almost a decade ago. Again, works for us!

    1. Sounds like you have a good system Gina!

  13. We have multiple accounts!! We banked with Chase, then when we moved to NC we switched to BofA because there are no Chase’s here…but I have freelance income deposited into Chase still due to the fact that I haven’t switched it over. And my husband has a business checking account…basically, it’s a mess and we do need to consolidate everything. BUT, I will say, for now it does work. We try not to touch anything in Chase and I kind of like having different “savings goals” albeit confusing. Oh and we have a Synchrony online savings for our house downpayment…ay ay ay.

    1. Ah that’s a lot of accounts! I hope you are able to eliminate some soon πŸ™‚

  14. Connie @ Savvy With Saving

    I do a lot of the same things. Automating all my bills and going paperless has been such a time saver. But I take the time to actually look at my bills every now and then to make sure there aren’t any erroneous charges that I’m paying for.

    1. Yes, if you are automating everything, you definitely need to still check in. This is a mistake that many make.

  15. Great post! Organizing your finances is definitely worth the effort and it eliminates a ton of hassle and stress. For some reason I automate some, but not all of my payments. I’m the weirdo who likes to physically log in or call to make payments on certain things each month. But I’ve also stopped using an old credit card and went paperless a few months back which has also helped a lot.

    1. Thanks! And haha you are not a weirdo.

  16. Agh…I don’t know what happened and why that comment published!
    We have a few bank accounts. We have our checking account and savings account with our main bank, but we have our emergency fund at another bank. We got a better interest rate on a money market account so we elected to keep it housed there just to make a little money on it.

    1. Haha I deleted your other comment. No problem.

      Sounds like a great reason to have the money market account!

  17. Sarah

    We have one checking account and four savings accounts. Having multiple savings accounts makes our life much easier. We have one for our son (who’s three), one for our daughter (who’s one), one for emergencies, and one for fun (such as vacation trips). I couldn’t imagine having to track all of that in one account.

    I just took our budget from paper to digital and we are slimming down our use of credit cards. We have combined finances, but one income, so we have to be careful to stick to our budget.

    1. I definitely think that makes sense to have multiple accounts. Great reasons!

  18. Liette Seguin

    Thank you for sharing the article. Hope to hear more from you.

  19. I also am an index investor but I use 4 funds. I spend maybe at max 1-2 hours a year “actively” managing my investments which obviously isn’t a lot of time. Gives me more time to do other things like blogging.

    1. Yup, and that is why I am all about investing in funds.

  20. I’ve read blog posts about having multiple accounts. In my opinion, it’s too much work. I get using different banks if you have loads of money – one bank might not insure the total amounts of your funds. But since I’m not a billionaire, that doesn’t concern me! I use YNAB, so I can see why I have funds in certain categories. I can have everything in 1 account without worrying that I’d spend it on random things.

    1. I agree, for me it is too much work and having multiple accounts is just not for me. Maybe when I’m a billionaire πŸ˜›

  21. Elroy

    Just VTSAX? Crazy!

    1. Haha yup I am crazy!

  22. I always tell people they need to KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid). The more they can simplify their finances, the easier their lives become, truly. I am a big fan of automation and single bank or investing locations. It sometimes takes time to combine all the accounts in one location, but it is easier to manage in the long run.

    1. Yes, while transferring everything in the beginning might take time, I think it definitely pays off to have everything run more seamlessly.

  23. I have accounts at two different banks, and the reason behind it is that I was able to receive my student loan only via specific banks, and mine was not in the list. So I’ll probably close it afterwards, or maybe not, as it is the most popular here in Quebec and it’s a Cooperative one, so sometimes you need to have an account there to ask for things, ex grants, loans, ex.

    But to be honest I prefer the other one, as when I move to other provinces, this bank is present nationwide, and not the co-op one.

    1. I think that’s a good reason for why you have accounts at two different banks. That makes complete sense to me.

  24. These are great tips! I also set reminders in the calendar on my phone, otherwise I would always forget when bills are due. I should really heed your advice though and set up autopay for more…I only do that for one bill right now and I think it would really make my life a lot easier!

    1. Yes, it would definitely make life easier. Just make sure you still check in every now and then and make sure you are not being overcharged πŸ™‚

  25. Ryan

    Hey there – great list! I also follow many of the same steps. automation, joint finance, fewer credit cards overall.
    One reason many people (myself included) like to have multiple savings/checking accounts open is that there are several β€œhigh” interest options out there like Ally, Sallie Mae and GE capital that pay somewhere around 1% interest on your cash funds. Most of these accounts have balance limits (minimum and maximum) and usage requirements that you have to meet in order to achieve the maximum interest payment. having more than one of these accounts allows you to take advantage of a greater spread of options if you don’t mind the extra account management. I add all my investment, credit, savings

    1. That makes sense. Good to know!

  26. Who doesn’t like making things more difficult than they should be? Just kidding, I’m the same way though with automated payments and whatnot. The only painful part of automated payments is when you sign up for a new credit card to churn and have to switch a bunch of them. I think the more often you do it the easier it becomes.

    1. Yeah, that’s the only bad part. I just had to switch a bunch over and it took some time to do!

  27. I automate my savings and my bills! It’s a huge time saver! I also put everything in my calendar/Asana. If it’s not there, it doesn’t exist! Organization is key.

  28. Naturally, I like your tip about paying off loans! My life without student loans is going to be phenomenal, which is why it’s my top priority. And I think there’s a little something for everyone in this post – it’s very useful!

    1. Thanks Natalie πŸ™‚

  29. I will chime in on the multiple bank accounts thing. I have 4 bank accounts at different locations. The reasons are two fold. One, each one offers something different. One is an online bank, another my regular bank, my business bank, and my credit union. I have money stored in all locations. I don’t like keeping all my available cash in the same bank account. I also get better rates with my credit union, so money sits int here earning and as a member, I get low loan rates. The others are self explanatory. I doesn’t take me any more time to manage them. I only really use one and the others are holding cash. Out of sight, out of mind!

    1. I think all of these make clear sense. I was mainly talking about people who pay for bills out of accounts from different banks, which just sounds like a lot of hassle to me.

  30. I do use multiple savings accounts and I find this helpful. They are all through an online bank and each has a designated purpose such as my personal savings, my daughter’s college fund,and the vacation account.I have set up automatic deposits to each account. This actually helps me budget because some accounts such as my daughter’s college fund I never touch. On the other hand when it’s time for planning a vacation I can clearly see just what I saved and can spend.

    1. I think that’s a great reason to have separate savings accounts. I would do the same as well!

  31. I love the idea of automating bill payments but hate the idea of handing control over to the billers to debit my account. Yes… I have trust issues. πŸ™‚ Plus, I always transfer a rounded up amount to my utilities so that I have a credit balance and at least one ‘bill’ ahead in my payments. This is part of my emergency planning.

    What your post has reminded me to do is check with my credit card provider to see if I can set up automatic outgoing payments for these bills. So, that’s #1 task today!

    I keep my accounts simple, except for superannuation (retirement accounts) as I have a couple of those and keep promising myself I’ll roll them all together but it’s such a long-winded, complicated process, I keep putting it off! Better put that on the to do list, too, huh?!

    Great post, thanks Michelle!

    1. Thanks Diane! πŸ™‚

  32. Great post Michelle! I do a lot of these things as well and noticed that after implementing them it was so much easier to run my whole financial life. I definitely love automated payments.

  33. Love Excel. For my budget & tracking credit cards. It’s the only thing that has enough flexibility for me to design it how I want it.

  34. Kim

    I have 3 checking accounts, one local so I can deposit paper checks, which I still get from one of my employers. One is so I can do person to person payments for my commercial building. I can get rent and pay the holder of the mortgage on the same day, which I can’t do from my local bank. The other is to get a bonus for opening and account and I will cancel that one as soon as I have had it open long enough to get the bonus. A bit confusing on the surface, but they all have a purpose.

    1. I think that makes complete sense to have multiple accounts. All great reasons!

  35. I only have 2 automated. For some reason I enjoy paying them myself. I also use mint.com which helps me a lot. As far as accounts I have 5. I have a regular checking and savings, my travel acct, my safety acct and a “retirement” account.

    1. A few people today said they enjoy paying bills themselves, so you are not alone πŸ™‚

  36. Mary Jayne Cassidy

    I travel internationally for my work – mostly to Africa and other developing countries. I have a separate checking account which I keep a maximum of $500 which I use for traveling. Lowers the risk of losing large sums of cash if my check card (or number) is stolen or ATM theft which is common in many places.

    1. I think that makes plenty sense. I would do the same thing!

  37. Autopay is a key for me. As well as BillPay, writing a check online. If it was not for Autopay, my credot score would be about 3.

    It’s hard enough to pay bills, let alone remembering when to pay them…

  38. VTSAX! That’s my favorite fund as well πŸ™‚

  39. I have a checking and savings account for my business and then a checking account for myself and 10 savings accounts. I use these accounts for various things – one is for my car insurance, another for home insurance, another for emergencies, one for vacations, etc.

    For me, keeping everything separate works for me. I know I could combine them all into one savings account and it would save me a few minutes at the end of the month when I am balancing everything out, but the separation works for me, so I do it. I can’t really explain it any other way.

    1. I think if something works, then by all means do it. Personally, that would give me a headache haha! πŸ™‚

  40. Jessica

    These are some great time and money saving tips. I use several of these, but my personal favorites include keeping track of important dates, utilizing auto-pay when possible, using excel to track our budget/spending, and of course, paying off debt! I think these things really make a big difference.

  41. I love automated payments and transfers! I have like 5+ different bank accounts for different checking and savings goals, but everything is automated to come out of one checking account. I am also mildly obessed with Excel spreadsheets! πŸ™‚

    1. Sounds like you have a good setup. Good job!

  42. Agreed–simpler is better! Streamlining your financials can help you spend more time enjoying the enjoyable things in life…unless, of course, you REALLY enjoy managing your finances! πŸ™‚

    Very useful tips in this post, Michelle!

  43. Richard Buse

    I actually have 12 bank accounts, but 10 of them are with an online bank, while the other two are a savings and a checking account with a bricks and mortar bank.

    For me, this serves as sort of a digital version of the envelope system for budgeting. Each online account has a nickname for a particular type of expense, such as home repairs or health care expenses. It’s easy to transfer money to and from my bricks and mortar bank to those various Internet banking accounts.

    As a freelance writer, my income varies from month to month, but I set an annual budget for various types of expenses. Over the course of the year, all of those accounts get fully funded, but the amounts that go in from one month to another vary. The list of online bank accounts lets me know how well I’m doing throughout the year when it comes to deposits and withdrawals for various types of expenses.

    This might not work for everyone, but I like it.

    1. I think this makes plenty of sense. Sounds like a good system Richard!

  44. Great tips Michelle! Like you, I only have one checking account and I set reminders to pay certain things quarterly or monthly so I’m not incurring late fees. I have so much going on all of the time so reminders come in handy!

  45. Yes, cable and cell are the two bills I ALWAYS review each month because they tend to be wrong.

  46. Tre McDowall

    Automating payments is something that I am looking to get into more this year. I just think that it is better because it enables you to save some time to do other things.

    Also I work in the bank and I really think that keeping one account makes it easier for you to be able to track you spending.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Tre! πŸ™‚

  47. Tennille

    I think these are some great tips! I personally have 4 accounts but 2 of them are savings for my sons and the other two are our checking and savings account.

    I think it’s important to find the way that works best for you when it comes to managing your accounts efficiently.

    Thanks again for the information! :o)

    1. I think having 4 accounts in your situation makes perfect sense. Thanks for stopping by!

  48. Megan

    Ive been having troubles with spending, so I recently opened my second savings account as a “holding account” I put my paycheck in there & only transfer over what I need for bills. I seriously have cut my spending down massively!! I used to spend spend spend. these past 2 paychecks I think ive only spent once or twice (shopping) and it was for necessities, groceries, personal items etc. im seeing how much Im having to transfer over and seeing how low my balance gets on that holding account makes me nervous, also I know that there is no “EXTRA” money in there to just swipe my card or get cash out with!!!

  49. nancy walker

    I HAVE A PROBLEM WITH WHAT PERCENTAGE I SHOULD USED FOR MY BUDGET

  50. I really appreciate your tip to try and have a detailed layout of all of the different credit cards that you have so you know when you have to pay the fees. My wife and I have been thinking of getting a new house, and we are concerned that we won’t be able to handle the mortgage stress along with all of our credit cards. I will be sure to tell my wife that as long as we are good about keeping track of our credit card expenses, we won’t have to worry!