Learn ways to eliminate clutter, organize accounts and streamline your money management.
There are many reasons to organize and simplify your financial life. Eliminating clutter, saving time and reducing stress are surely among them. And here’s another motivating factor: Not keeping tabs on your finances can be costly if it results in fees or interest charges you could have avoided, investment losses, additional taxes or other pitfalls.

FDIC Consumer News offers a checklist of nine basic things you can do to get your money matters in order…and keep them that way. Here are the top four:

1. Use direct deposit. Ask to have your pay, pension or Social Security benefits automatically deposited into your bank account. Direct deposit is safer, easier and more convenient than having to deposit a paper check into your bank account(s).

2. Automate recurring bills. Many companies, such as insurance or utilities, will allow you to pay recurring bills with an automatic withdrawal from your checking account or through a charge to your credit card. However, be sure to record these transactions in your check register to avoid overdrawing your account.

Many banks, like Peoples Bank, also offer online bill-paying services that allow you to pay bills quickly, easily and when you want. These programs generally allow you to sign up on your bank’s Web site to receive bills electronically from companies you do business with.

3. Explore online banking. This service lets you review deposits and withdrawals, keep track of your balance, and move funds between, say, your checking and savings accounts — at your convenience. For example, with online banking you can quickly review your account and make sure you didn’t forget to record any debit or ATM card transactions in your check register. You can get an update on whether funds from recent deposits are available for withdrawal. You might even be able to receive your bank statements online instead of in the mail.

4. Put some savings on autopilot. Arrange with your bank or employer to automatically transfer a certain amount into savings accounts or investments on a regular schedule. Automatic savings programs can make it easy to build an emergency fund or save for the future. Also, if you invest in stocks, mutual funds or other non-federally insured assets, it has been documented that making investments on a regular basis can result in a higher return over time than trying to time the market.

The FDIC is a great resource for consumer financial education. Check out the rest of the FDIC strategies and more financial tips on their website. www.fdic.gov