Learning effective money management not only enables you to live comfortably within your means, but also helps you to increase your wealth. Use these money management tips to stay in control of your money!
- Set a Money Management Goal
Money management is a means to an end. However, make your goal practical and be sure the “end” is in clear sight. Although your money management goal may be to have a comfortable retirement, start small with objectives like paying off a credit card within X number of months or saving $X by the end of the year. In money management, like in any regimen, there’s nothing like the satisfaction of success to keep you on track!
- Know what you have
Before you can live within your means, you need to know what your means are. Start money management by taking stock of your money. You’ll probably be surprised at how rich you really are!
- As well as the cash in your pocket or purse, include piggy bank cash, bank balances, and available credit from credit cards. (Lines of credit, such as overdraft protections and available credit from credit balances, are additional resources we can use to purchase goods and services. At first look, they appear to be a part of our money. However, credit always belongs to the creditor. When we tap into these financial resources, they decrease our spending power over the long haul with finance charges, fees, and interest that increase our debt.)
- Go on a treasure hunt to find lost money. Look in coat and trouser pockets, through Birthday and other greeting cards, jewelry boxes, dresser drawers, under furniture cushions, behind and under furniture, in your freezer, and under your mattress!
- Although our money is an asset and all of our assets are types of our money, generally we’re more inclined to think of assets as property.However although all of our possessions are parts of our wealth that we can turn into cash, usually they are the types of our money that we want to protect from creditors. For instance, you probably don’t want to sell your car or cash in a valuable coin collection to pay a bill. Yet, the ability to convert property to cash is a good concept to remember in identifying and effectively managing your money.Some assets like vehicles and appliances depreciate (decrease in value) over time. Yet, while they don’t increase spending power, you can turn them into cash.
Long-term assets like real estate holdings, investments, and personal property such as collections, artworks, and antiques appreciate (increase in value) over time and actually enable us to save money and increase our wealth.
- Track your income
Really track your income! If you have at least a month’s worth of old check stubs, add them up and divide them to see what your average income is. Better yet, if you can add them for a quarter year and divide by 13 (number of weeks in a quarter) you’ll get a more accurate view of your earning power. If you haven’t saved check stubs, do it for at least four weeks. Don’t just add your weekly wage times four. You’ll be forgetting sick days, flat-tire days, and omitting extra income from overtime and holidays.
- Track your spending
Once you know what money you have now and what income you can expect to get, it’s time to find out where your money goes. Take a month and track your spending down to the penny. Make your first purchase a small notebook and pen you can carry in purse or pocket.
Record everything! In addition to tracking the cash you spend, use your notebook to record every bill payment, check, debit, and credit card expenditure. Include the amount you paid, who you paid (or where you shopped), and the date you made the purchase.
After a couple of weeks, you’ll find yourself reconsidering if you really need that pack of gum or mid-morning café latte. However, this money management exercise is designed to show you how you usually spend your money. It’s important during this month not to deny yourself your usual pleasures, no matter how trivial they are.
Setting a realistic goal, knowing what you have, what you expect to earn, and tracking your spending are the basics of money management that enable you to control your money and make wise budgeting choices in the future.