No matter your financial goal, money management is the first place to start. It’s important to keep track of your expenses to make sure you’re not spending more than you make or increasing your credit card debt. If you feel like you live paycheck to paycheck, then now is definitely time to take a hard look at your expenses, see where you can make adjustments, and take firm control.
Find Out Where You Stand – To get control, you need to know exactly what you’re dealing with – how much money is coming in each month and how much is going out. Most experts recommend taking a few minutes every day to go through your accounts. This will keep you up to date on your balances, transactions, and any surprise charges.
Create a Budget – To get a clear picture, create a budget. There are many apps and online templates you can choose from. Many of them provide visual images, like pie charts, that help you see how big of a chunk each expense is taking from your take-home pay. A budget will tell you if you’re setting aside enough money for the essentials (rent, utilities, food) and how much is being eaten up by non-essentials (like concerts, eating out, cable, or gym membership). If money is tight, cancel non-essential subscription services temporarily. You can always restart them when things get better.
Manage Your Debt – If your credit card debt is high, see if any of your existing cards are offering low interest rates on balance transfers. Transfer the balance from the highest card to a lower interest card and pay more than the minimum whenever possible. Also, until you have paid off the debt, only use your credit card for emergencies.
Start Saving – Another important task is to beef up your emergency savings or start an emergency savings account if you haven’t done so. Ideally, you want to save at least 3 months of your take-home pay. You can start with as little as $5 a week. Simply save $5 consistently each week and when you think you can add a little more, increase your deposit. To make this easier, set up an automatic transfer from your checking account.