Is your local garbage tip more organised than your finances? Bear in mind, we are not talking about how much money you have in the bank. While $5 million may seem like a fortune to some, 40 per cent of Americans with $5 million say they’re not rich. If you have zero money but a fridge full of food you might consider yourself to be poor, but someone who is hungry and unable to afford food would disagree. Before we can focus on wealth, we need to have our finances organised. Being financially comfortable is about being able to meet all your needs and basic requirements and resting safely in the knowledge that all of your obligations are met. Time to start sifting through the cluttered mess that is your finances, addressing each issue one by one and creating a neat and clean financial environment that will make your life much more comfortable, trust us. How to get organised without the need for a budget planning service Firstly, if you are completely overwhelmed by debts and demands from debt collectors, you can get free, confidential, independent financial counselling from a government funded service by calling 1800 007 007. You don’t need to pay an expensive budget planning service or debt agreement administrator to get on top of your finances. In most circumstances, you are capable of doing the same job that they do – without the unnecessary extra expenses that come with using them. Here are some simple tips to manage your debt and begin to get them under control: Compile your debt: The first step is to put together a list of everyone you owe money to. You can get a list of all your defaults by applying for a free credit report. Compile this with your current outstanding debts.Contact your creditors: Talking to debt collectors or companies that we owe large sums of money to is extremely difficult. But this is what the budget planning services will do on your behalf. Contact them and in most instances, they will be happy with a commitment to pay and will slash the amount you owe.Create a budget: This will probably come up a lot in this guide because budgeting is critical for financial success. Allocate a portion you can afford to pay regularly while maintaining your weekly expenses. You can access a budget planner calculator here.Pay the biggest debts first: Interest rates mean your larger debts will only get bigger over time. You want to pay them down the fastest to reduce the volume of interest you will be paying. What are the minimum financial products everyone needs? To best manage your finances, it is time to streamline them. Create a list of financial products and services that you have (and want) and then tick the ones that you need, removing the ones that you do not. At a bare minimum, you should have the following financial products: A good transaction account with low or NO fees. A strong savings account that will help you to build your savings. Create a savings plan within your budget and stick to it, regularly putting money aside in an account that is giving you rewards for your diligence. You can access a calculator and guide to savings accounts in Australia here. A superannuation account – but only one. Almost 40 per cent of Australians who with superannuation has more than one account while there is $17.5 billion in lost super in Australia. A credit card or debit card. These are necessary for online purchases, but question whether you actually need a credit card and the interest rates they attract. Debit cards will allow you to purchase online without putting yourself into financial strife. If you do require a credit card, you can compare rates here. “Do you actually need a credit card?” Access to a car loan or personal loan. You will need a strong credit report to access these services to refer back to our first point on managing and controlling your debt. Insurance. Working hard, purchasing a reliable car, having furniture and goods in your home and enjoying the rewards of your financial responsibility should never be taken away from you. If you can, insure yourself, your home and contents and car. Adopting these simple strategies and ensuring you have a budget you can stick to will soon organise the mess that is your finances and allow you to live a better and more comfortable life. So, don’t wait, get your act together today. You will be forever glad that you did. Compare and save on all your banking accounts, cards and loans at InfoChoice. The information contained on this web site is general in nature and does not take into account your personal situation. You should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs, and where appropriate, seek professional advice from a financial adviser. If you or someone you know is in financial stress, contact the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007.