smart spending

6 ways to avoid financial Groundhog Day

Repeated mistake: Playing ostrich
Repeated mistake: Playing ostrich © oriontrail/Shutterstock.com

Got a pile of bills unopened at your house? Take comfort in the fact that you're definitely not alone.

A lot of consumers let financial statements and bills pile up, especially in January and February, says John Linfield, attorney and acting executive director at the Institute for Financial Literacy.

Electronic or paper, the documents go "unopened, unreviewed -- and (consumers) have no idea what's going on," he says.

The key to breaking this cycle: Give everything a quick look when it first arrives, he says. Emphasis on "quick."

It doesn't have to be "an in-depth review of finances," Linfield says. If it's a bill, what's the balance and when is it due?

Then, put the bill in a set place. Have one predetermined location set aside where you keep only the financial communications -- things like bills, change of terms notices and bank statements, he says. That could be a physical place in your home or an electronic file on your computer. "And it always goes in the same place, so it doesn't start spreading," Linfield says.

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