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My Number One Financial Tool

February 29th, 2008 at 10:24 am

I think my most important financial tool is my calendar. In my house, I am "defensive coordinator" ... I take the lead in making sure that the money that comes in STAYS in, rather than getting wasted on interest (paid or missed), late fees, penalties, or just missed opportunities.

I do not have an especially organized mind, and so I write oodles of reminders on my calendar. My husband thinks I'm a bit bonkers, but as soon as I become aware of an important date, I stop whatever I am doing and go to my calendar and write it down. Why? Because I learned the hard way just how quickly I can forget things. (And DH may think I'm bonkers, but I can't tell you how many times I have had to remind him of things he thought he would remember! I can't tell you because I already forgot!)

Some calendar notations are specific to a date when action must be taken:
- Days to pay bills or the rent
- Dates CDs are maturing
- Dates taxes are due (annual federal income, self-employment taxes, property taxes, city & state business taxes)
- Business Meetings
- Doctor or Dentist Appointments (who wants to pay no-show fees?)
- Dates library materials are due (who wants to pay late fees?)
- Dates to give the dog his monthly preventative, when his shots are due, or when his license expires (prevention is the best medicine after all)
- Driver's License and Passport expiration dates
- Date lease expires & deadline to give notice if moving out
- Election Days
- Day the postage rate increases (to 42-cents on May 12)

Some notations are general "on or around" reminders:
- Note to call a friend on the weekend, when cell phone minutes are free
- Order free credit report
- Take defensive driving course again to re-qualify for insurance discount
- Fund HSA or IRA
- Schedule a vet, doctor, or dentist appointment
- When it's okay to close a bank account without incurring an early-closing penalty
- When we can get a free carpet cleaning through our landlord

Some are notations in the form of a question. They are reminders to myself not to let things slip through the cracks, to followup if something has not been done:
- Did I receive that refund from Greyhound for my trip to DC?
- Did I get that prepaid gift card from Wachovia for opening the new account?
- Have I received that cashback bonus or those reward point redemption gift cards?
- Did Geico post the 10% discount for taking the defensive driving course?
- Did so-and-so reply to my account query?

On the last page of my calendar, I write notes that extend beyond the current year. Even tho' we are only 2 months in to 2008, I already have 7 notations for 2009 and later. Some of the really far away notations that just might illustrate that my husband is correct when he thinks I'm bonkers include the following:
- "2011 = Estate Tax exemption reverting back to $1mil??? Is there still no spousal exemption for non-citizen spouses? If our net worth exceeds $2mil, we need to think about what this means." --- Please do note the word IF in the preceeding sentence! Keep hope alive! Smile
- "12/21/2012 - 'End of era' per Mayan calendar" --- Please don't ask me what I think this means. I have no idea. Just thought it might be something to think about as the time gets closer Big Grin
- "~2013: Think about getting long-term care insurance (can pay for premiums w/ HSA)" --- This is a result of my decision to "revisit the whole LTCI question in about 5 years" --- Tho' if the world comes to an end in 2012, I guess it won't really matter, will it?

4 Responses to “My Number One Financial Tool”

  1. Aleta Says:

    I think that what you do is great. I do something somewhat similiar. I also post any games that my husband and son were going to in the past. I write down when i have a hair cut or dye my hair. We have a water purification system which is installed under the kitchen counter and I write the change filter date on the calender and also on the filter itself.

    I have used the FlyLady calender and almost still love when I make my own calender that I can move around and file it when needed. My calender like yours has saved me much time and money because of the reminders.

  2. Caoineag Says:

    Oh I so understand, I have sticky notes for each month for my important dates and than I have my outlook calendar at work remind me of important dates because I would forget them all!

  3. PauletteGoddard Says:

    This is a timely, inspiring and informative post. I was just thinking this morning what I could do today to be better organized in March. Lo and behold, calendar use!

  4. monkeymama Says:

    Being organized really makes all the difference.

    PErsonally I like Quicken because it takes a lot of the work out of it. I put notes on all the accounts about minimum balance, due dates, maturity dates, etc. as well. BEcause who can remember all that? But as far as bills, it will just list what is due based on prior months, or what I input. So I don't have to remember anything. Big Grin
    BUT I just had to add I hear you on the appointment thing. I always get SO annoyed when our doctor/dentist sends us 3 reminders for ONE appointment. I always think, "what do they think I am? A moron?" LOL. I just put it on the calendar and it is never forgotten. But I guess most people need reminders. That's just strange to me. PArticularly the 2nd or the 3rd call. I mean, come on...

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