Smart money management can start right away. Managing your budget doesn’t have to be some far-away, pie-in-the-sky dream. Your financial goals don’t have to wait.
If you’re wondering about how to get your finances under control (like, yesterday), here are a few easy money management tips to help you get started on the pathway to better financial health.
#1: Pay More Than Your Credit Card Minimum
If you pay even slightly more than your credit card minimum payment each month, it can save you money in the long run. You’ll end up paying off your interest more quickly, and your credit score will go up over time.
#2: Start Investing
Instead of simply saving or spending all your money, smart money management often involves investing. Set aside a few hundred dollars to start investing in different stocks every month, and see what kinds of returns you can get.
#3: Create a Personal Budget
The first step to getting your finances under control is understanding how you spend your money. Make a list or chart that includes your income and monthly expenses, like rent or mortgage payments, electricity and other utilities, food and groceries, gas, and other necessities. Calculate how much you can spend on extras each month, and stick to it.
#4: List Your Financial Goals
If you want to get your finances under control, you have to know where you’d like to be financially in five or ten years. List your financial priorities, such as buying a house or paying off student debts, and make a plan to get there. Just making the plan should get you on the right path.
#5: Lower Your Eating-Out Expenses Little By Little
If you really love your Starbucks, it can be daunting to think about never eating out or grabbing a latte again. But you can start controlling your excess spending little by little. Start by making one or two more coffees at home each week, or bringing lunch from home one more day a week than usual.
#6: Hit Up Happy Hour or Coupon Night
Check your local restaurants to see if you can get a deal on date night or a family outing. Many restaurants and bars have happy hours or discount nights.
#7: Search Groupon
Groupon has discounts on everything from fun recreational activities to restaurants and hair care treatments. If you usually just head to the salon without looking at the price, see if you could get a steep discount on your next haircut from Groupon and similar services.
#8: Visit the Local Library
There are many free resources available at the local library. If you usually buy books or movies, try borrowing one instead. If you take your kids to expensive play centers, try the free one at your local library or park this week.
#9: Make Yourself Wait for a Purchase
Sometimes, all it takes is a little time for you to realize you really don’t need whatever you wanted to spend your money on. If you’re at the mall and see something you like, make yourself wait an hour to buy it. If you don’t still desperately want it after waiting, save your money.
#10: Use a Money-Tracking App
There are many personal budgeting and money-tracking apps available for smartphone users that will help you curb your spending, save and invest more, and create a comprehensive budget. Download one and see if it helps you with smart money management.
#11: Sell Your Clothes or Books
If you need a little extra cash, go to a used bookstore or a clothing resale company like Buffalo Exchange and see if you can sell what you already have. Or, have a garage sale and sock away some of the profits as savings.
#12: Have a No-Spend Day
Smart money management is just as much about saving as it is about making money. Try to not spend even a single dime for a single day. Some people do this for up to a week or even a month, barring necessities. See what solutions you come up with when you can’t spend money.