The Complete Guide to Organize Your Personal Finances

I’m super excited to welcome back to the blog today Kalyn from Creative Savings. Kalyn’s just released a brand new book, which is awesome, all about showing you how to radically reduce your expenses. More information about it below.

The complete guide to organize your personal finances at I'm an Organizing Junkie blog

When it comes to saving money, half the battle is staying organized.

We have income to allocate, expenses to track, receipts to save, bills to pay, and files to maintain—it’s no wonder we often throw everything in a shoebox and pretend it’s not even there. In fact, I think one of the reasons we struggle with keeping our finances up to date is because there are so many details!

But that’s certainly not an excuse to ignore everything either.

It’s time to peel of the band-aid and finally get your finances under control. This five-step guide will help you stay organized every step of the way, even if you’re starting completely from scratch!

1. Categorize Your Expenses

First, you need to find out which expense categories belong in your budget. If you’re past this stage, then you can skip down to #3, but for the rest of you, this is essential to figure out before you set up a budget, let alone a tracking system that actually works.

The simplest way to start is to download your bank statement and/or credit card statement, then label each expense as a specific category—groceries, gas, utilities, etc—until every transaction has a label.

After you’re done, you may want to group certain categories together so you have ten different categories instead of twenty. For instance, if you wrote down Groceries and Eating Out, combine them both into a category labeled Food. Remember to keep it simple!

2. Create a Budget

With categories in hand, you’re ready to create a budget. This is just a fancy way of saying you’re going to allocate your paychecks among all your expenses. Own this part, because a budget is the turning point to managing your entire finances!

This Budget Worksheet walks you through every step, and shows you how to fill it out with both your income and expenses. When you’re done, it’s time to evaluate your budget and make sure you’re not spending more than you make. If you are, then you need to go back and rework some of those numbers—a.k.a. reduce your expenses.

My book, 31 Days to Radically Reduce Your Expenses (affiliate link) is extremely helpful in pinpointing what expenses you need to tackle first and how to lower them even further. It’s like your personal roadmap to make meaningful and lasting change, no matter how much or how little you make! Psst…the Kindle version (affiliate link) is just $.99 today only.


3. Maintain a Tracking System

A budget is only as good as the tracking system that goes with it. This is a detailed overview of your entire finances so you know exactly what you’ve already spent, and what you have left to spend. Otherwise, it would be way too easy to go over budget, and we wouldn’t have any practical or solid way to keep ourselves accountable in real time!

There are are literally hundreds of ways to do this. From cash envelope budgeting, to complex software programs, you really have an endless number of choices to keep tabs on your money. If you’re not sure what to try first, this post breaks down each method so you can make an educated choice.

I have personally used an Excel Spreadsheet for years, then switched to traditional paper budgeting, and now I’m back to a mix of both. The customization I have in using my own system over budgeting apps and software programs is really worth it to me!


4. Set Up a Workstation

Now that you know HOW you’re going to budget, it’s time to set up a workstation to house all the information and tools you need to update your finances each week. This is so you don’t have to waste time rummaging around for receipts or bills, and makes life SO much easier. The less barriers you have to do your finances, the better.

My workstation is technically my desk, but I have everything I need housed on or inside my office cabinet so it’s within easy reach. Here’s what I use:

A Receipt Jar – Anytime I get home from the store, I immediately transfer my receipts from my purse to the jar. When it’s time to update my finances, all my receipts are in one place!

My Financial Notebook – This binder houses my Password Sheet, Bill Paying Calendar, Checking Account Ledger, Mortgage Amortization Schedule, plus all my deposit slips. My Income and Expense Trackers I update digitally on Google Drive.

Receipt File – After I enter in my receipts, I throw away the ones I don’t need, and save others like clothing receipts or home decor purchases in a small accordion file, just in case I ever need to make a return.

Stamps and Envelopes – For any bills that require me to mail in a check, I keep the supplies needed tucked away inside a small box.

Then I just use my computer to access all my bank accounts and credit card statements online. I also have my phone nearby in case I need a calculator.


5. Manage Your Files

While I wish I could go completely paperless, there are some paperwork items you must keep long term. For that you need some sort of filing cabinet or file box.

I keep all my PAID bills in alphabetical order by month in the bottom portion of my cabinet—the top is reserved for business stuff. I also keep my credit card and bank statements, as well as anything I need come tax time in there as well. After my taxes are filed {in February or March of each year}, I go through the cabinet, shred what I don’t need, and transfer what I do into a banker box that houses all my archived documents.

If you’re not sure how long to hold onto things, this printable from Clean Mama is a great resource!

It might take some initial effort to get everything set up, but when you do, updating your finances each week is going to be a breeze. Staying organized is truly the ticket to keeping tabs on your money!

Do you have an organizational system for your finances?

If you found this post helpful, would you be so kind to pin this image below. Thanks for sharing!

The complete guide to organize your personal finances at I'm an Organizing Junkie blog


Kalyn Brooke is the founder of the popular frugal lifestyle blog,, where she empowers women to make their money work smarter, so they can create the life they really want. She strongly believes in pinching dollars over pennies, buying quality products over cheap substitutions, and living a life rich with purpose and intention….not deprivation. Originally from Upstate NY, Kalyn now resides in sunny Southwest Florida with her husband, Joseph, and one terribly spoiled rabbit, named Cody.

  • This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated, at no extra cost to you,  if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. However, I only ever mention products I love and would recommend whether I was being compensated or not. Thank you so much for your support of my site!


Filed under: Guest Bloggers, Paper Organization


5 Responses to The Complete Guide to Organize Your Personal Finances

  1. 1
    Heidi says

    I used a combination of Quicken and an Excel spreadsheet for years. When Dave Ramsey’s EveryDollar came out, I tried the free version…and I took the plunge and tried out You Need A Budget. YNAB has turned out to be Absolutely fabulous, accomplishing with much greater ease what I used to do with my spreadsheet. They’ve changed their model from a stand-alone to a cloud-based system. I haven’t started the cloud-based system because I’m not super keen on the monthly subscription, but eventually probably will. It’s been a wonderful tool and I’m very happy I took the time to learn it and implement it.

    • 1.1
      Kalyn Brooke | Creative Savings says

      I keep hearing so many good things about YNAB, I should probably try it out. I just love my own system so much that it would have to be pretty amazing to top it! 🙂

  2. 2
    Kylie says

    I’m a huge fan of the Mint app. We have accounts with two different banks, and we have multiple accounts at each. Mint allows me to see everything and organize my budget. Also, you can set goals and get to see the progress! I’m still figuring out the best way to handle receipts.

    • 2.1
      Kalyn Brooke | Creative Savings says

      If you already like digital systems like Mint, I might try to scan your receipts with the free app Scannable, then file them in Evernote. You could label each receipt with a specific expense category tag which would make them easy to find!

  3. 3
    Erinn LaMattery says

    This was a great article! Thanks for sharing it!


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