Most likely, no one ever says they wish they could make their finances more complicated. People talk about organizing their finances or paying off debt, but at the bottom of all of that, most really want one thing: a simple financial life. The tips below can help you do that, allowing you to worry less and save more.
Know What You’re Working With
What is going out? What is coming in? These are the first two questions you have to answer, looking at the money that you’re getting and the money that you’re spending. You might not even know if you are living within your means or not. To start with, you just have to answer one simple question, which is whether you’re spending more than you are making. If you keep running out of money before the next paycheck or charging up your credit cards, the answer is yes. Whatever the case, your next step should be to make a budget. You can start out by keeping a record of all of your spending for a few months or getting an app that will do it for you. This will help you understand exactly where your money is going.
Reduce Your Spending
Unless you are already extremely frugal, if you are like most people, the budget experiment will probably reveal ways that you can spend less. This doesn’t mean cutting out every pleasure in your life. Budgeting is not about finding new ways to deprive yourself but means that you can look at where you might be wasting money without realizing it and where you can save.
Ultimately, it should give you freedom since you’ll know exactly how much you can spend in various categories that you designate. Some of those places where you can cut back may be obvious. You may see that you could indulge in a little less retail therapy or start bringing your lunch instead of eating out every day. There may be other, less obvious steps you can take as well to free up extra savings. You could refinance any existing student loans into a new loan with lower monthly payments and interest rate. Once you have freed up some cash, the next step is figuring out what to do with it.
Set and Achieve Financial Goals
There are a few financial goals that are important for everyone: getting out of debt, building emergency savings, and saving for retirement. These should all be prioritized, with an eye to making things as easy as possible. If you have a retirement plan at work, your deductions can be automatic. You can also have savings diverted into a separate account by the bank when your money is deposited.
Organize your debts either lowest to highest amount, or highest to lowest interest rate, and pay the same amount each month, focusing on the first debt and paying the minimum on others. As each debt is eventually paid off, roll your payments to the next one on the list. This is an easy, consistent system to follow. You can pay your credit card down faster with this approach. Once these basics are taken care of, look to other goals, such as saving to buy a home.