Whether you are considering buying a home or not, having your finances organized is important. The ability to manage money well can help you afford a life that is a little more comfortable and a little less stressful. These tips will give you a jump start on being more in control of your money without the need of a finance degree.
1. Know What You Have
The best place to start is to evaluate all of your accounts and know exactly how much money you have in each. This would include knowing the balance of your checking account, savings account, retirement fund, credit cards, loans, and any other investment. Writing down the actual balances will give you a clear starting point, even if the totals aren’t exactly what you want them to be.
2. Create Goals for Your Future
This is where you can dream big, and also dream small. Once you’ve evaluated your accounts, think about what you want to accomplish financially. Do you want to save for a down payment on a home? Do you want to be free of your student loans in ten years? Do you want to save twenty extra dollars a month? Do you want to own a vacation home one day or travel the world? Big or small, your dreams are valid and writing them down is the first step in making them a reality.
3. Assess Your Payments
Take a look at your income and expenses over the past 30 days. How much money do you bring in and how much money are you sending each month to pay expenses? Most people underestimate their monthly spending and don’t want to look closely at the small spending habits they have created. By assessing your cash flow, you will identify areas that need work, like if you are going out to eat more in a month than you should, for example.
4. Set Your Budget
Take what you learn from analyzing your monthly spending habits and create a new budget for yourself. Create a list of rough estimates for things like groceries, gas, utilities, etc. This way you will know if you are spending more than you should month to month moving forward. There are budget templates you can find online, or you can create your own. Once you have an established budget, you’ll be much more aware of any excess spending.
5. Stay Focused
Once you have your finances organized, it’s important to keep your eye on the goals you have set. You can use money management apps, hire a financial advisor, use mobile banking to see each transaction in real time. Checking in on how close you are to your goals, both big and small, every month will help you stay focused and eliminate some of the stress that comes with money.