Money management tips can both make your life easier and save you money in the long run. That’s because a smoothly-running financial life means fewer fees and unplanned expenses — and more money to set aside for the things you want and enjoy. Here are some tips to help get you there:
Find out where you stand financially
What are the balances in your checking, savings, and investing accounts? What do you owe on your debts? How much are you spending, and on what? This information provides a good check on how you’re doing financially. If the negatives outweigh the positives (or even if things just aren’t as positive as you would like) take that as a sign that it’s time to get your finances into shape.
Automate the mundane
Most of us have at least some bills that are pretty regular each month, so if you’re not doing so already, consider signing up for automatic payments. It’s an easy money management tip that can save you some time. Good candidates for auto-pay include your house payment or rent, your phone bills, cable TV, the power bill, and water. Taking a few minutes now to set that up will free up time for months to come.
What’s your top money-related goal for this year? How will you get there? Lay out the ways you can reach your goal, and then take the steps each week or month that will get you there.
Create a budget
Part of managing your money involves creating a budget — and then using it. Remember that budgeting is about making sure the things you want to do actually happen, not deprivation. Make a list of the things you’ll need and want to buy over the next month, and allocate your spending accordingly. It’s ok — and in fact it’s normal — to adjust your budget each month, at least for a while. Make holding a monthly budget meeting a regular part of your life, and you’ll begin to see how beneficial this tip can be.
Think about the distant future, too
Short term goals are great, but thinking about things that will happen in the distant or mid-term future (like retirement and sending the kids to college) is important too. Be sure you’re setting aside enough money each month to meet these goals, and remember that making sure you’re setting aside enough for retirement should have priority between the two.