Budgeting is my least favorite tasks, but of all the ways to get a grip on your finances, budgeting is essential. If you want 2014 to be the year you finally manage your finances the right way, try some of my favorite tips. Budgeting seems so overwhelming, but I promise, it’s not impossible. With a few helpful tips for ways to get a grip on your finances, hopefully 2014 will be the year you finally win the battle with your money.
1. Be Honest with Yourself
I have found one of the best ways to get a grip on your finances is to just be honest with yourself. If you’re in a mess, something you’re doing isn’t working. Be honest that your daily spending habits, whatever they are, are only kicking you in the pants, and prolonging your financial agony. Be honest that you are going to have to make some tough choices and make some hard sacrifices. Once you do this, you’ll be prepared to take physical action with your budget.
2. Write It out
Next, you need to write out exactly what your finances entail. All debt, income and savings should be included. Make three columns for each and then divide your expenses up on a monthly basis, and then a weekly one. Writing out each week of your budget will help you see how in a week’s span, you can make effective cuts and changes.
3. Get Some Help
You might need to get some advice, whether free online or from someone you trust, to help you with your finances. Many other people have tips that we might not think of, or can give us perspective to help us push through. Just be sure to get advice from someone who’s in good financial shape, not someone who spends what they earn and then some!
4. Kiss Credit Goodbye
Whatever you do, get rid of all your credit cards. Oh, I know that seems scary, but they’re only a crutch. Pay cash for everything and learn to live off what you make and not what you don’t. This took me two years to learn how to do, and honestly, it feels natural now. Sure it stinks not being able to shop without a credit card, but not having those bills come in at the end of the month sure is worth it!
5. Cut Bad Habits
That visit to your favorite coffee store, online shopping you do at night, and several dinners out with friends has got to go. Sure, these things might seem innocent, but guess what? They’re killing your budget. And, most of us have nothing to show for these habits that we really find necessary after a while. Cut bad habits however you can. If that means getting a new habit to replace the old one, fine, just make sure it’s a free one! If you know you can’t resist online shopping, delete your browser’s history from the sites and eliminate all stored credit or debit information on those sites that you’ve saved. Avoid going to the mall in the same token if it’s a cause of your constant spending. If you have a daily coffee habit, start making your own at work or home, and opt to treat yourself once a month instead. Cook dinners with friends or family at home, instead of out, and try to shop at local farmer’s markets to save even more.
6. Get an App
I love the Mint app, which is free and tracks your spending. It also sends you alerts when you’re over your budget and all stored information is 100% safe. It even notifies you when your bank account gets low and lets you know when bills are due.
7. Avoid Late Fees
Late fees are empty dollars. You might as well flush your money down the toilet! Rearrange your bills however possible to avoid late fees and if you can, pay double on your bill for a few months to get ahead, or catch up on past late fees. You can also talk to certain companies who may drop them, but be aware, most won’t.
8. PayPal Only
One really amazing tool to use to manage your money better is PayPal, if you directly link it to your checking account. You can set up online bill pay, or you can also get a PayPal debit card to use instead of credit cards. Since it’s directly linked to your bank account, you won’t overdraft or charge anything as a result. Just carry it mindfully and don’t use it with a carefree attitude. PayPal is also 100% safe and better to use online than your debit card since websites never get your information directly.
Lastly, if you don’t save, this is the year to start! Even if it’s $10 a week, it’s better than nothing. Have 10% of your paycheck automatically drafted out and sent to a savings account. And then, most importantly, don’t touch it! In fact, don’t even look at it for six months if you can. You’ll never miss it over time, and it’s one of the best ways to give yourself emergency funds for later on.
Money issues create more stress for us, almost more than family issues, which is sad. If you need to get a hold of your finances, make this the year you finally do it. Do you have any tips for getting a grip on your finances?