Have your finances deteriorated into just a real mess? Do you have an unmanageable pile of bank statements lying over in a corner? Is your kitchen table covered with bills some of which date back two or three months? Then you need to become a better financial manager and I’ll tell you how.
Figure out where your money’s going
All financial experts agree that the first step in becoming a better financial manager is to figure out where your money’s going. You may need to track your expenses for as long as 30 days to see how much you’re spending and for what. You can keep track of your spending with a notebook and a pencil or if you have a smart phone, with one of the financial apps now available fort both iPhones and Android phones.
Spending more than you earn?
Now that you know what you’re spending you can compare that with your total earnings. If you find that you are spending more each month then you earn, your next step is to create a budget.
Next step, divide your spending into logical categories such as transportation, food, insurance, clothing, utilities and so forth. Now, take a deep breath, look at each category carefully and decide where you can make cuts. The “soft” categories such as food and clothing are usually candidates for cuts. For example, I have read articles of people who were able to cut their food costs by as much as 80% just by shopping more carefully and using coupons.
How’s your debt?
If you’re spending more than you earn, the objective of your budget should be to reduce your spending to less than your earnings so that you can begin to pay down that debt. This will take a certain amount of self-discipline but getting out of debt can feel a lot like getting out of prison.
Today, there is a wealth of software available that can help you get control of your finances and become a better financial manager and much of it is free. If you don’t have a smart phone, you can get tracking and budgeting software for use on your PC or Mac. One of the most popular of these is You Need A Budget, which runs on both platforms. The program Buddi is good for those on a PC, while GnuCash can be used on both types of computers. PearBudget is a free spreadsheet that works with Excel.
Smart phone apps
If you have an iPhone or Android smart phone, you could use Mint.com, which is probably the most popular financial management software available. It can be used to track all your expenses, create and maintain a budget, monitor your savings and checking accounts, stay on top of your investments and even alert you if it finds a better financial product then one you’re currently using. Other popular apps for use on smart phones include BillTracker, DebtMinder and Mvelopes.
Check your credit score
Since your credit score is absolutely critical to your financial well-being, you need to know what it is. You can get it free on the site www.myfico.com if you’re willing to sign up for a trial of its Score Watch service or pay $19.95 if you aren’t. A score of 800 or higher will get you just about anything you would want in the way of a mortgage or new credit. On the other hand, if you learn your score is 500 or less, you will need to go to work to improve it as you will find it difficult to get any new credit of any type.
Consider debt consolidation
Families who have let their debts get out of control have found that professional debt consolidation can be an excellent solution. For example, our debt consolidation providers have helped hundreds of families become debt-free in 24 to 48 months and with an affordable payment plan. If you feel like you’re surrounded by debts, call our toll-free number. The odds are that we can consolidate your debts and help you get out of that hopeless situation.