As we skate into the new year we contemplate how to make our life better, less stressful, more enjoyable. Eventually, in my opinion, this all rolls into one word – MONEY. No matter what changes you make in your life you WILL spend some amount of money. Unless of course you decide to drop everything, pack your bags, walk away from it all and find a community that works only from trade – if you desire that lifestyle and succeed, good for you! The rest of us will be over here trying to become less stressed over finances.
I hear over and over that money is the main cause of stress in life. I do not have all the answers on how to manage money. I do not know a damn thing about investing or the “market”. I only know this….. you cannot move forward until you know where you are.
Here are some money managing tips that have worked very well for me over the years… In random order.
Know your financial responsibilities: Write EVERYTHING you spend on a sheet of paper. Go through your bank statement, write down every recurring bill. Utilities, rent, car pymt, loan payments, credit card payments, insurance, cell phone, daycare, tuition, gym membership, jelly of the month membership, etc. Write down the minimum payment amount and the due date (this will help you later). For utilities, jot down the average amount keeping in mind this amount will fluctuate over the seasons. Total up your grocery spending, gas station visits, bus fare, Uber fare, etc. Finally total up your eating out, personal shopping, personal care and anything else you spend on a normal basis. Compare all these totals to what you bring home in a month’s time. If you receive tips or commission possibly you can look back to see how your income can fluctuate and make an estimated guess from past history.
Budget: Now that you are aware of your expenses, your financial obligations and what you might be able to live without… create a budget.
Mint.com and DaveRamsey.com have some awesome articles and tips on how to create and stick to a budget. CHECK THEM OUT! It’s an eye opener.
Credit cards and Debt: Do you know what the APR is on your credit card balances and or loans? Some cards can charge over 20%. I’ll direct you back to Mint.com and DaveRamsey.com to learn more about these charges. What you read may help you decide that no matter what your balance is, skimming by making the minimum payment each month is a big NO-NO! With that said, credit cards are not the devil – they can be if their powers are abused, though. If you are responsible and can pay off your balance each month, they may be rewarding in the long run.
Pay yourself: SAVE, SAVE, SAVE Whether its $100 a month or $5 a week, just save something! Keep track of your savings balance. As you watch it grow, it might be harder to spend it. Set a goal like this: “I’d like to save $200 in 6 months….. see if you can do it and adjust from there.
Give yourself a break: Taking control of your finances is serious “adulting”. It takes a TON of self control and discipline to keep it in check. Don’t beat yourself up if you make a mistake – like forgetting to pay the power bill – yikes! Just be prepared to get back on track as soon as you can.
*The opinions and recommendation of Mint.com and Dave Ramsey mentioned in this article are 100% uniquely mine. I have not been compensated in any way and links provided are not affiliate.