Out of clutter, find simplicity, Albert Einstein counseled: wise words from a genius who might have made his message simpler still. “Stay organized” is another way to put it. A few easy ideas can help you save time and money, avoid headaches, and step out ahead at work and home.
Say you spend five minutes a day searching for misplaced items. Over the course of a lifetime, that can add up to 90 days of pulling your hair out. To cut down on wasted time, consider these tips.
1. Stay on top of your mail. Scan financial statements for unauthorized charges or inaccuracies. Pay bills on time, then promptly stow the records in neat yearly files. Or go digital instead, with personal finance software such as Quicken or QuickBooks. A few mouse clicks and all that paperwork goes away.
2. Switch to automatic bill payment for vital services such as water, electricity, phone, even AAA. Signing up for automatic renewal of your AAA membership means you’ll never worry about a lapse in Emergency Road Service. You can pay by credit or debit card, or by direct withdrawal from your checking account. For more information, visit AAA.com/membership.
3. Prepare for the unexpected by carefully cataloging all your keepsakes. Photograph and list your household valuables, along with estimates of their worth. Keep close records of all your accounts—insurance, banking, credit, loans—including the account type, number, expiration date, and customer service numbers for each.
And photocopy the crucial contents of your wallet—AAA card, driver’s license, credit cards—front and back. Once you’ve documented everything, make three copies. Keep one at home, one in your emergency kit, and another with a family member or a trusted friend.
4. Make tax time less taxing with the help of TurboTax. The TurboTax Federal Free Edition is exactly that: free, easy-to-use software for preparing a simple federal return (state forms cost $27.95). You can use your AAA member discount to save up to 25 percent on other TurboTax online products.
For more information on all AAA member savings, visit AAA.com/discounts. While online, you can visit AAA.com/newsletter to sign up for emails with exclusive member discounts.
5. Take advantage of other AAA resources. Once you’ve made your days more streamlined, you can take time to explore free AAA tools, including safety materials for all kinds of drivers, from teens learning the ropes to seniors wanting to review their skills. Visit AAA.com/auto.
This article was first published in March 2012. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.