Being good with money doesn’t just mean that you avoid debt and always make ends meet. It doesn’t require amazing math smarts either – you just need to be able to add and subtract. Being good with money is partly about your attitudes and habits. It’s also being able to live within your means, no matter how much you earn.
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Here are some great tips to help you manage your money:
Create a Budget
Lots of people don’t make budgets because they think it’s boring – just writing out lists of expenses and deducting them from income. You only need to spend a couple of hours a month to create and maintain your budget, so think about how much better it’ll make your life.
Use your budget
You don’t just create your budget and then forget about it! Look at it throughout the month to make sure you’re on track; update it when a bill is paid or when you buy something unusual. You should be able to know roughly how much you’ve spent and how much you have left on any given day.
Set limits for unbudgeted spending
Hopefully you’ll have some money to spare each month, but this doesn’t mean you can burn through it. Of course you should treat yourself and have fun with it, but you shouldn’t use it all. If you’re planning to make a big purchase with your slush fund, take a few minutes to check that you won’t be diverting money from a savings project or that you don’t have a pressing debt you could reduce.
Monitor your spending
You know how much your big monthly expenses are – mortgage, loan, utilities – but do you know how much you spend on all those little purchases? The chances are that you don’t, but it’s those little purchases here and there that add up and can send you over-budget. Track where you “waste” money goes and do something to reduce this spending.
Don’t take on any extra monthly commitments
Just because your overdraft has been extended, or your credit card limit has been raised, you shouldn’t spend it all. Your bank makes decisions like this based on the expenses you declare to it. This doesn’t include the possibility that your work hours might be reduced, or that your utilities might become more expensive. Leave yourself some wiggle room so that you can cope with existing obligations.
Always look for the best price
Compare utilities, use discounts and vouchers, look for free shipping, unbranded goods and so on. It only takes a few minutes and can save you a lot of money each year.
Save up for bigger purchases
Being able to defer gratification is a big part of being good with money. For a start, waiting gives you time to decide if you really want and need the item. It’ll also give you time to save up some more money towards it if you’re planning to put the purchase on a credit card.
Leave your credit card at home
If you don’t know how you’ll pay off your new balance after buying yet another pair of designer boots, then you probably shouldn’t buy them. Just because you’re running low on actual cash doesn’t mean you have to turn to your credit card. Remember – this is money that you eventually have to pay.
Putting money into savings regularly is a good habit to get into and once it’s in your savings account, it starts earning interest.