Some people are rockstars at managing their money, but if I had to take a guess, most of us probably fall somewhere along the lines of garage band or guy-who-knows-one-guitar-chord. Do any of these sound like you? You might need a financial check-up if:
- Your financial goals seem more like a wish list for your fairy godmother than an actual possibility.
- When you think about your debt, it makes you want to scream like a little girl.
- You wish you could save more (or any) money, but somehow things like eating and keeping the lights on take priority.
- There's almost always more month than money.
If you'd like some free help with finding solutions, you've come to the right place! The single best thing most folks can do to get a handle on their finances is to take a look at, or start, a budget. Unfortunately, this is a step most people skip over because it seems too difficult. But, it's worth it. Start with a free website like mint.com if you need a little help. Having a budget in place will help you see where you spend too much and it will be easier to see where you can cut back, making room for saving.
Speaking of saving, this is the second most important action to take, after setting (and sticking to!) a budget. After all, the reason most people wind up in financial trouble is because they didn't have an emergency fund set aside to cover unexpected expenses. You know the story, the water heater bursts, and without that emergency fund, you wind up putting the new heater on a credit card, and the cycle continues. Setting up an emergency fund should be top priority, even before paying off debt. Think of it as your own little insurance policy.
If you have trouble saving, set up automatic withdrawals into a savings account. This is the best tip I know of for saving - make it automatic. You can set up your accounts so that each time a paycheck is direct deposited, a certain percentage is automatically withdrawn and deposited to a savings account. The trick it to forget the money exists and live on only what's in your checking account. You'll be saving for your future in no time.
Start with these two priorities - budget and saving - and you'll be well on your way to rockstar money-management status.