If there is anything that has the natural tendency to get jumbled up and turn into a mess, it’s our finances. Roughly, 34 percent of the Americans have taken personal loans in the past year. That’s 83.5 million people. Luckily, you don’t need to be an expert to get your money in order. All you have to do is take some steps regularly, and your money matters will slowly start making some sense.
Let’s see what you can do in the next hour to get started on putting your finances together:
1. Write down a list of what you spent last month.
Recording expenditure is something we always put on the back burner, telling ourselves: “oh, I’ll to do it later on.” In reality though, it doesn’t take long if you have a pen and a small notebook handy. Note down your earnings for the month, then jot down your expenditures underneath it. As you do that, you will note how much extra cash goes to waste — the first thing you need to realize when trying to breathe some sense into your finances. Once down, mark the items that you need to cut out and note them down on a ‘DO NOT SPEND’ sticky note. Stick this note somewhere you’ll see it every day, and tell yourself not to spend money for such unnecessary items.
2. Write down a list of what you’re expecting to spend next month.
Pre-planning your finances is a significant move to prevent them from running amok. So, dedicate the next 15 minutes writing your major expenses that are due from your earnings next month. These include your grocery bills, electricity bills, commuting costs and so on. Add some extra amount for other small expenses that pop in every now and then. This sheet will give you an idea of where your earnings go in a month. I’m so habitual of dividing my earning into incoming, major spending, and extra expenses that I can estimate a rough amount that I expect to save each month.
This is a surefire tip for getting more savings under your belt. Because once you know how much of your money goes where, you’re likely to be protective of the rest and stop it from going under the I-don’t-know-where-my-money-flew section.
3. Cut out unnecessary spending.
Dedicate the next 15-20 minutes to canceling additional subscriptions. With everything available online these days, this step shouldn’t take you long.
4. Set up an automated emergency savings account.
Although this step doesn’t need much explanation, an emergency fund has your back in times of need, and you should have enough savings for at least 3-6 months. Emergencies can befall at any time, whether in the form of a broken heater or a car wreck, so you need to be prepared. The latest survey by Bankrate.com learned that only 29 percent of Americans have six months of emergency expenses, with one-quarter admitting they have nothing saved.
It’s best that you lay out some cash in a savings account. Financial planner Liz Frazier advises: “decide how much you can put away each month and automate the monthly transfer.” It should take no longer than 5 minutes to set up an automated savings transfer.
5. Take your credit card out of your purse.
In 2001, two professors at MIT Sloan School of Management put on their research hats and learned how much more we spend with our credit cards as compared to cash. Their findings, published in marketing letters, showed that shoppers spend about 100 percent more when using their card instead of cash to pay.
Now, why does that happen? Two reasons offer some explanation here. For one, paying with credit cards is easy. Secondly, we don’t see the money we are parting with immediately when we use a card. So, the cost seems less significant, as Psychology Today explains.
The takeaway is straightforward: don’t use your credit card to pay. Take it out of your wallet and put it in a zipped side pocket in the bowels on your handbag. Leave your card at home if you can and carry only the amount that you expect to expend on a particular day.
To wrap up, these steps should help tidy up your finances somewhat. The key is simple: track your finances so that you know where all the money goes. Then, you can move it around to spend moderately and save well.