If you’re like many one of many people in the US today you may be struggling to manage your personal finances. While the signs of economic recovery are in place, according to CNN Money, the pace isn’t “wow-inducing” and while salary increments are observed, they remain modest. If you’re having personal finance issues and you want to manage your money better, you need to start learning to think and plan smarter.
Don’t let bad credit get the best of you
The first thing you should do is get a copy of your credit report from three different credit bureaus, such as Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. When you look over these reports, be sure to check for any errors or debts that are already paid. If you do find anything that shouldn’t be there, write a letter to the bureau(s) detailing the error and they should be removed from the reports fairly swiftly.
Learn to manage your debt
Before you can think about setting any kind of a budget, it’s important to determine how much debt you have and begin repaying it. Start with the high interest debts first and allocate a sum of money each month that goes towards debt repaying. Once you have finished paying your debts, this money can then be allocated to saving.
Time to think about budgeting
The next step is to create a budget that will allow you to track your income on a regular basis. My Money Coach talks about the importance of creating a budget to ensure that you always have enough money for the things you need. Start by writing down your most important expenses, such as rent, utilities, groceries, etc., and then move on to your miscellaneous expenses, including salon visits, magazine subscriptions, and clothes shopping. Try to cut out all unnecessary spending from the budget, such as your daily Starbucks or candy bars.
Become a saver
Start to save part of your income each pay period, as it is good practice to have some money available for an unforeseen emergency situation. You can also start to think about your mid and long term goals, such as saving for a vacation, buying a home, or saving for your retirement. Consult with a financial advisor to look into ways you could invest your money, as this can be a good way to build a stable financial future.
Get a second job
OK, so this might not be something you’ll want, or even need to do, but if your financial situation is truly getting the best of you, you may need to boost your income. Ask your current employer for more hours and if that isn’t possible, think about looking for a second job that you can do from home, such as freelance writing, customer service, or data entry. This is a good option for stay-at-home moms who want to achieve a better work/family balance
Get smart about your credit cards
When paying off your credit cards each month, try to pay more than the minimum balance. Not only will this help you pay off the balance quicker, but if you only pay off the minimum, you will mainly be paying the interest on the card rather than the actual balance.
Look for free activities
Learn how to enjoy life without having to spend money. Go to free events in your town and visit the library for free books and DVDs, or watch movies instead of going to the theatre.
Do you really need a brand new car?
You may be one of those people who always wants the latest make and model, but have a look at your existing car. Do you really need to change it? Can you get it serviced regularly instead?
Learning to manage your personal finances requires sensible thinking and some dedication, but gaining control over your money is priceless and by implementing these simple tricks, you can learn to become financially smart.
by Michael Peggs
Michael Peggs is the founder of Marccx Media, a digital marketing agency specializing in SEO and Content Marketing. Before Marcxx, Peggs worked at Google in business development, forming digital media and advertising partnerships. He is also a blogger and podcaster, hosting the iTunes Top 10 New & Noteworthy podcast You University – The Personal Branding Podcast.