Are you tired of racking up overdrawn fees on your checking account or worrying about making the next mortgage or rent payment? You might just wish you could put a little more away in savings every month or have the nagging feeling that you could spend less if you just knew how much you were spending in the first place. Maybe you’re drowning in bills and worried about mounting debt and even the possibility of bankruptcy. Whatever your reasons are for wanting to improve your personal finance, there is plenty you can do to take control in this area.
Personal finance is an area of huge anxiety for some. It is not unusual to dig a deeper and deeper financial hole simply because of inconsistent dealing with monthly bills, or do not know where their hard-earned money is going. If this sounds familiar, you shouldn’t despair. Plenty of people have been in this situation and have come out successful on the other side.
However, as the first step, you have to understand where every dollar is going. This means tracking your spending and making a budget. If you are worried about debt, it can be scary to think about tallying up the numbers and figuring out how much you owe, but it is the first step to identifying that debt. Apps, software, a spreadsheet or simply writing down what you spend throughout the day for a month or two can give you a feel for your spending habits.
With this data now in front of you, while it may be tough to stomach at first, the next necessary step is to create a budget. As part of this process, you need to figure out your priorities. Of course, you will need to keep a roof over your head, the electricity on, and food on your table, but there is more to setting your financial priorities than this.
At this stage, you need to think about what you really value. Maybe it’s important to you to eat out at the hot new restaurant regularly, go hiking every weekend, or have season tickets to your favorite basketball games. People make the mistake of thinking that creating a budget is about deprivation, but it is actually about figuring out what is important to you so you can stop spending money on what matters less. Maybe you don’t need that daily coffee on the way to work or the regular carryout from random restaurants during the week. You should also think about what you would like to save for. This might be a vacation, a down payment on a house, retirement, or something else.
Get Rid of Debt
With your budget and priorities in place, it’s time to stop wasting money on unnecessary expenses, fees and interest. If you have a few outstanding credit cards or other debts you are currently paying off, you might consider taking out a personal loan to consolidate. With credit card rates being sky high, it could take years to pay off, depending on the balance. This way, you are only making one monthly payment instead of several, and with the lower interest rate there is more opportunity to pay down the balance in a fixed amount of time.