Money management is a very tricky subject that can leave many feeling apprehensive. Finances can lead to arguments in relationships and lots of worries, maybe even depression among some. I am well into my 40s and I have talked to people my age that have been putting off saving for retirement….NO! Some have never heard of having an emergency fund for a rainy day. It is never too late to get your finances on the right track so we need to get started and begin to make good financial choices so that we can live the life that we dream of.
So here are 10 money management tips to get us started on the right track…
- Acknowledge your priorities. Before we even think about creating a budget, we need to know what our priorities are. We have to see that our money goals match up with our money habits. Any part of your financial life that makes your stomach sick at the mere thought of it is now a priority. Whatever concerns you most, make that a priority.
- Know your monthly income. This is so important because you cannot manage your money without knowing what you earn. This number is easier to know when you are a salaried employee. If you work for yourself, like I do, you have to estimate this number. Once you determined that number, do not forget to add your side gigs in.
- Track where you spend your money. Some banks have software that will show you where you are spending your money on the websites. This process can be overwhelming so taking it one month at a time. This means you have to keep receipts, credit card statements, bank statements, housing and utility bills, and those electronic payments like Amazon and PayPal records. Write down everything in categories and label your wants and needs.
- Have a plan. First, we have to look at our spending habits. Look at your expenses, if you are spending money for a gym membership and you never go, it is not important so it can get cut out. Go walk in the park for free. Do you go out to eat every day? That is not necessary and can get cut down or out. Go do some grocery shopping and buy things that you can prepare and bring to work for lunch. Cut out what is not a need and/or not important to you and start saving to build your emergency fund.
- Stick to the plan. Once you figure out the plan, you have to stick to it! Give it a full month. You may have to tweak some things until it works for you. Find a budget that you may want to try. There are a few budget worksheets out there. My boys have vision boards so that they have visual goals that they see often. I believe this helps you stick to your plan because it keeps your goals fresh in your mind.
- Expect emergencies. We should always have some easily accessible liquid funds. They say you should have six months of income saved, maybe you can start with having 1-3 months. You never know what may happen out there. You or your partner may lose your job, or some medical emergency may arise, or a tire blows on your car. How you put away money away for an emergency is up to you. Having money to deal with problems as they come definitely gives you some relief and makes you feel more secure. Most emergencies have enough stress with them as it is; not having the finances to take care of them will add more.
- Save early and often. The sooner we save, the sooner we build interest. Whether you do a savings account or an IRA or 401k, you will still need to consider the future. I just started saving when I shop. No matter if its the grocery store or anywhere else, when the receipt says, “you saved $….,” I actually put it away so I really save it and not just spend it somewhere else.
- Take advantage of free money. If your employer matches your 401k, you need to take advantage of that, it’s free money! Another place to look is your health insurance. Some build up a little side savings account.
- Look at your debt again. You may need to consider refinancing your car for a lower rate or transferring a credit card balance to one with a lower interest rate. It is worth combing through your debt to find out where you can save money to put away.
- Find what works for you and keep doing it. “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.” Once you find a system that works for you, do not get distracted by the new trends, apps, and TV financial advisors advice. It is sometimes tempting to try the next new thing but if you are in a good rhythm, keep it going. Your focus will pay off!