Personal finance is the bane of everyone’s existence. Let’s face it, there are not a lot of people who will put their hand up and say that this is their favorite subject. However, without having a little bit of knowledge about it, your life is going to get financially complicated very fast. So here are a few things that you need to know.
When you need to borrow money, ensure your personal finance stays safe by never going over 30% of your income. When people borrow more than 30% of their income it can drastically reduce your credit score. So as long as you stay within these safe parameters you can enjoy having good credit.
If you are having trouble managing all of your bills because they are coming due at the same time, you may be able to rearrange your due-dates to make things easier for you. Contact your credit card company or utility company and ask them if you can change your due-date so you have more time between each bill.
Try using cash to pay for all of your purchases next week. When you buy goods with cash instead of plastic credits cards, it is easier to see exactly how much money you are parting with. Also, if you don’t have a credit card on your person you can avoid impulse buys.
If you want to save money, then look hard at your current spending patterns. It is easy to theoretically “wish” you could save money, but actually doing it requires some self-discipline and a little detective work. For one month, write down all of your expenses in a notebook. Commit to writing down everything, such as, morning coffee, taxi fare or pizza delivery for the kids. The more accurate and specific you are, then the better understanding you will get for where your money is really going. Knowledge is power! Scrutinize your log at the end of the month to find the areas you can cut back on and bank the savings. Small changes add up to big dollars over time, but you have to make the effort.
Saving on utilities around the house is very important if you project it over the course of the year. Limit the amount of baths that you take and switch to showers instead. This will help you to conserve the amount of water that you use, while still getting the job done.
Take a snapshot of your spending habits. Keep a journal of absolutely everything that you purchase for at least a month. Every dime must be accounted for in the journal in order to be able to truly see where your money is going. After the month is over, review and see where changes can be made.
Get yourself a free checking account. Checking accounts these days charge an average of about $13.00 in monthly fees, and usually require a minimum balance to keep the account free. Switch to a no-fee account that requires no minimum balance and does not charge per transaction. Try smaller banks in your community, online-only banks or credit unions.
Managing your finances can be especially difficult if you have children. Reduce unnecessary expenditures by setting aside a predetermined amount that is to be spent on each child for the month – you may want to put it in an envelope labeled with the child’s name. Fast food, treats, and entertainment are limited to the amount set aside in the envelope; once it’s gone, it’s gone.
If you have any credit card debt, make sure to start paying the higher interest ones down first. Putting all your extra money into paying off your credit cards now is a smart move, because looking at the trend, interest rates are going to continue to rise over the next couple of years.
Consider banking with a credit union. In today’s difficult economy, many banks are eliminating free checking accounts or adding new fees and charges. Credit unions, however, are non-profit, so they usually charge lower fees and may offer lower interest rates on credit cards as well, allowing you to keep more of your money.
So there you have it. Not such a scary subject now, is it? Armed with the advice presented in this article, you now have the knowledge you need to tackle your finances with a little more confidence than before. Who knows, over time you may even look forward to long term financial planning!