People find out that I write about personal finance issues, and start asking me questions about how to improve their finances–especially the budget and overall financial bottom line.
Some of the most common issues when trying to manage your personal finances have to do with the information, how often you get it, and what you do with it. Here’s a list of tips that can help you do better with your money–note that a good many of these have to do with information and how often you access it.
An informed shopper, borrower, or house hunter is a happier one. What follows is meant to inspire–you should be able to innovate some additional steps to take based on your own personal needs and interests. Don’t be afraid to invent something new as an experiment to get your personal finances into better shape. And be sure to let us know in the comments section what you did, how it worked, and how you felt about it when you finished!
Check Your Finances Every Day
Some people call it a “money minute”. Set aside some personal time each and every day to look in on your bank balance, credit card limits, and how close you are to them, and check up on your credit report. You don’t need to invest a full hour doing this, just use your apps, your online statements, and any credit monitoring service you might be subscribed to and keep tabs on yourself, your spending, and your financial obligations.
Set The Right Budget
Some financial advisors recommend using a minimum of 20% of your income to put toward important financial resources like retirement funds, emergency nest eggs, and other “pay yourself first” type investments. How much are you currently paying yourself for the just-in-case fund, and your 401K?
Check Your Deductibles
Medical, auto and other insurance policies require deductibles in most cases. Improve your finances by checking these deductibles to make sure you aren’t paying too much for your insurance but ALSO to ensure that you can realistically pay the deductible if you need to when something happens. It does you no good to carry a $2000 deductible if you don’t have that money to spare–try to get closer to a deductible range that IS affordable should you need your insurance.
Set Long-Term Goals AND Short-Term Goals
You can’t manage today’s needs as efficiently if you focus your efforts solely on the long-term. Set short-term financial goals and make sure they are realistic and achievable.
You can make a game of some short-term financial goals–a money challenge can help you save cash for a vacation or an indulgence such as a gaming platform or smartwatch. But short-term goals don’t have to be entertainment-centric. You can use money challenges or other types of short-term financial planning to save money simply to meet a certain dollar amount you’d like to have saved up for a rainy day.
Joe Wallace is a writer and editor from Illinois. He was an editor and producer for Air Force Television News for 13 years, and has served as Managing Editor for publications including Gearwire.com, and Associate Editor for FHANewsBlog.com. He is also an experienced book and script editor specializing in non-fiction and documentary filmmaking.