Disorganization was one of the biggest hurdles we overcame when starting to pursue financial independence (FI). Maintaining our existing personal and financial responsibilities was cumbersome; digging in deeper to optimize our lives was unimaginable. The resources below gave us the organizational foundation we needed to make incremental improvements to our life. These small changes have added up, and we are on a much better path as a result. If you are struggling to start pursuing FI like we were, the list below will give you a head start:
1. Google Voice – a free, flexible, and permanent phone number
To understand why I grabbed a Google Voice number, read my post on how to use Google Voice with an employer cell phone and eliminate your personal phone. This specific case aside, I believe almost everyone will benefit from having a Google Voice number. I have placed it first on the list because if you foresee any value in having a flexible number that can be forwarded as-needed to other number(s) and phone(s), you should grab a free Google Voice number now. Then as you login to your various accounts in the following steps, you can easily add your Google Voice number.
2. LastPass – one online password to rule them all
This is my favorite find and top recommendation. To see why, read my post that explains how to use this intuitive online password manager to streamline access to all of your important accounts. As you work towards FI, you will probably open additional financial (and other) accounts as new opportunities arise. A potential pain point comes when it’s time to manage all of these new accounts. LastPass completely solves the problem of having to remember or reset multiple passwords. Setting up LastPass is my second step, because in two of the following steps, you will sync your accounts with online management tools. Generating and storing secure passwords with LastPass first will keep you from going through the syncing process twice.
3. Personal Capital – understand your whole financial picture
Using LastPass is great because it ensures you can access all of your accounts across all platforms. But to understand your financial situation, you need to see your earnings, expenses, investments, and liabilities in a single interface. This means using a financial tracker, and my preference is Personal Capital. Once you’ve set this up, you can easily monitor your progress towards your financial goals and identify any changes you need to make to stay on target.
4. Online Calendar and Task Manager
To keep your financial life in order, you need to keep track of appointments and tasks. Whether meeting with an accountant to discuss a new side hustle, managing travel rewards credit cards, or scheduling IRA contributions, you will free up a lot of mental space using online calendars and task managers to keep track of your commitments.
- Online calendar for commitments on a specific date/time. There are many options here, but I have used and recommend either Google Calendar or Outlook. For those who are self employed or tend to have most of their meetings and appointments on their own terms, Google Calendar is a great option. In my case, most of my time-specific commitments are work-related. It is therefore easier for me to add any personal commitments to my work Outlook calendar. This also allows me to mark myself as “busy” to my colleagues when I will be out of the office for personal matters.
- Task manager for commitments without a specific date/time. Again, there are many options here. My personal preference is TickTick, although Todoist has very comparable reviews. I have also dabbled with Evernote and Google Tasks, but have not found them as useful as TickTick, which along with Todoist, seem to have the best customer feedback. Regardless of which task manager you use, the key is to enter all tasks, including deadlines and/or recurrences, as soon as they hit your radar. This will make you more reliable and less stressed.
5. AwardWallet – where does your travel loyalty lie?
If you rack up a lot of travel rewards, whether through opening credit cards or traveling outright, AwardWallet will help you see what rewards you have available and when they expire. My AwardWallet blog post explains why this tool is indispensable for optimizing rewards travel.