Step-By-Step Guide to Mastering Your Money and Managing Debt

By Erin Lozano

messy inbox“Clear out your Inbox” is a term for cleaning up the business-type clutter around your home. You know this clutter and how fast it accumulates: letters, bills, coupons, receipts, to-do lists. Mine ranges from my car to my entry table, to my desk, to my kitchen.  An “Inbox” is any place that collects items that require attention. When these piles build up in enough places, you can bet overwhelm is just around the corner. But have no fear, here’s a step by step guide to help you untangle it all.

Clear Your Space

Clearing your physical space clears your mental space, and puts you in control of your life’s flow, cash flow included. When you sort, organize and prioritize your to-dos on a regular basis, you free up your attention span to focus on what’s really important to you, and recognize new possibilities in your financial future. In addition, seeing your financial to-do’s organized into action items will give you a consistent handle on your resources.

Simple Steps to Getting Organized

1. Find an attractive file box, basket or “Inbox” of your choice.

2. Purchase a set of letter-size hanging files and file folders.

3. Label each of the files in this way: “Action-Now”; “Action-Future”; “Bills to Pay”; and, “To File.”

4. Throughout the week, put ALL incoming items for consideration into in the “Inbox.” Get addicted to transferring the de-facto spaces that collect these things, like the kitchen counter or dining room table, to the real “Inbox.”

5. At the end of the week set aside one to two uninterrupted hours to sort the “Inbox” into your action files.

That gap between working out and watching Grey’s Anatomy could work well for this. Put each of the items from the “Inbox” into one of the four files and this will help you manage your debt. Items in the “Action-Now” file could include items such as credit card bills from companies you want to call to reduce your interest rate. The “Action-Future” file should include items that do not need to be addressed this week and may include that house-buying class you wanted to take that doesn’t come due for a couple months. “Bills to Pay” should include bills that need to be paid this week. “To File” items may include receipts of paid bills, copies of insurance policies just received, etc.

The goal is to touch each item only one time on its way to an action file. If you do not put “Inbox” contents directly into a clearly labeled action area, you will end up spinning your wheels and making piles for hours.

Take Care of Your Finances

Tending to our financial well being is as important as taking the time to tend to our physical well being. Spend some time this week taking care of your financial well being by organizing items into your new, labeled files and clearing out unnecessary items from your physical space. How does it feel? Share your results in the comments below.

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Erin Lozano is COO of, a unique Cash Flow Management tool makes your financial future as important as your financial history. Automated to all of your online banking and credit accounts, Green Sherpa handles expenses and plans up to twelve months ahead to give you 100% visibility on your goals.