Many of us are overspending and under budgeting every month. We get that notice in the mail about a bounced check or overdraft fee that makes our stomach turn. These fees can really add up, especially when you are already strapped for cash. So how can we get better about managing our money so we don’t end up seeking financial help?
Eliminate unnecessary spending. Look at the things you are buying that are not necessary. The majority of people don’t go on shopping sprees with hundreds or thousands of dollars they don’t have, they buy a 20oz coke and a pack of candy every time they go into a gas station. This nickel-and-dime spending will eat up funds faster than anything else. If you don’t have the cash to buy it, think twice about putting it on a credit card. The majority of people experiencing financial trouble have credit card debt to thank for it.
Prioritize your spending. We could all use a lesson on the difference between “need” and “want.” Seems simple enough but for many it isn’t. Families need food. They need a place to live. They need transportation. Things they want are satellite TV, bottled water, TVs in every room, separate rooms for children, smart phones, and the AC at 60. The line for need and want varies from person to person and family to family. Write a list of “must have” expenses. What is left over are things that are luxuries. See if you can cut at least one of those things from your monthly expenses.
Learn to budget. Budgeting isn’t figuring out how to make it to the next paycheck without drowning. Budgeting is planning how each dollar of your income should be spent and sticking to it. It is harder to spend money on things that you know to be ear marked for expenses, projects or vacation. Without a budget, the money seems readily available as long as it’s in hand.
Have a plan. A plan is kind of like a budget but its long term. What debt would you like seen gone at the end of the year? At the end of five years? Having a plan gives direction and purpose instead of feeling like you’re aimlessly trying to “get better.”