Tips To Manage Your Money

If you spend any amount of time with me, you'll know that I keep track of every penny that comes both in and out of my bank accounts.  It's somewhat anal, I realize, but I'd just as soon over analyze my spending habits than become an unaware over-spender. I give my parents credit for showing me that it's possible to live a good life within your means, and how to have a healthy respect for credit cards. Whether or not you keep track of every penny like I do, never underestimate the importance of being aware of your spending habits. And more importantly, I think you should never undervalue saving a few bucks when you can. Because in the end, those few bucks you've saved, over time, will add up to more than just a few bucks.

But fear not; if you are someone who has not handled money well, it's not too late for you. In fact, it's never too late.

Here are some tricks that I've learned along the way, which ironically, has allowed me to not only save more, but also enabled me to spend more on the things I really want to spend money on:

  • I make a budget. I know what my income is and I budget every category of spending to make sure I don't outspend my paycheck.
  • Just because something is on sale doesn't mean I have to buy it. This is a marketing ploy! People will oftentimes buy things they never intended buying because they saw a sale sign. Here's a secret: it will go on sale again (and probably cheaper the second time). And before I jump at the sale sign, I think through what I currently own: do I really need this item?
  • When I come upon something I really like and it's over $75, I walk away. ($75 is my threshold, yours can be different). If I am still thinking about that item over the next several days, I will then look through my current items to see if I already own anything like it. If, after both of those action items, I still want it, I will make adjustments in my budget to sacrifice in other areas so I can safely make the purchase.
  • Shop around and wait for sales! Don't be an impulse buyer, things always go on sale. I, personally, love walking through the clothing section at Costco. You can find name brand clothes at a fraction of the cost.
  • Plan ahead for big purchases. For me, I know that I will be making a big purchase at the end of this calendar year. So, I've already started putting away $50 a month toward it.
  • Treat your savings like a line item in your budget. Save first, before spending any money. Never spend first and think that you'll save the leftovers. More times than not, there are no leftovers.
  • If I know I'll need a new car, I start making car payments to myself now. If I have an opportunity to earn interest on the money I'm saving as opposed to paying interest on a car loan, then I don't know why I wouldn't jump at the first option.

Here's the bottom line: too many people have poor financial habits that have caused them to live in bondage to their debt. When you learn to count your pennies and spend them a little wiser, you in turn, are able to live with freedom and financial margin.