Control Your Finances – Taking Action Today
Your finances determine many important things in your life, like where you live, how you live, and frequently what you can and cannot do. Thus, it is very important to get control of your finances. Here are some steps you can take today to begin taking control of your money and get on the path to wealth creation.
Start tracking your spending, all of it. The first step you must take when taking control of your money is to know how you currently handle your finances. Where does your money come from and where does it go? You might be surprised to learn that how you think it is being spent is often different from how it is actually spent.
To find out what’s happening to your money, start keeping track of it now. Your tracking system can be as simple as a notebook with columns on the page, or you want to buy a software program to help you. If you have an Excel Program or other similar spreadsheet program you can use that for accurate tracking for no additional cost. Then enter or write down everything you spend money on as soon as you spend it. Do not let guilt keep you from making entries. This record keeping step aims to help you find out the truth about where your money goes, and not to judge your expenses.
Many times we get money and it just seems to disappear, often rapidly, and the mere act of keeping track and recording it will make you more aware of potentially wasted money or money that could have been saved or the amount spent reduced.
Establish a budget. If you do not think you can follow a budget, think of it as a spending plan. To get your finances on track and start saving, you will need to spend less than you make. Write down where your money coming from and what dates you get paid. Next, determine how that money is spent on bills and other necessities. Note how you will spend the rest.
If you are a senior citizen or someone with a low income there may be some aid programs you can apply to. For example where I live in Southern California there are programs with Southern California Edison and the Gas Company, and even the Telephone companies available to lower income families if they qualify. It never hurts to see if you qualify for any of these and other low income programs, if that applies to you.
If you have a budget you can see that you need to cut some expenses so you can stay within your budget. Remember to plan ahead and put money aside for large purchases. Your needs will likely change every few months, so review or reconsider your budget or spending plan regularly.
Start saving. People with money save a part of their income so they can invest and watch it grow. However, many of us are not accustomed to saving. We spend our money as soon as we receive it. To start saving money today, contact your bank to arrange an automatic transfer from your account. Saving 10% of each paycheck is a good goal. As you’re getting used to the idea of saving, you can start by saving 5% of each paycheck and build your way to higher levels of savings. Your paycheck should probably go directly into your account so you don’t get your hands on it and spend it before you save the 5-10%
Store your credit cards. If you have your credit cards with you when you shop, you will probably use them. Eliminate your credit cards as an option by hiding or putting them away. You can always cut them up if you feel confident you can live without them and all your current credit card bills are paid up. If you remove them as a temptation, you go a long way to force yourself to live within your means and spend only the money in your bank account.
Ask your credit card company for lower fees and interest rates. Pick up the phone and ask your credit card companies if they can work out a lower rate for your credit cards. Usually, they will try to help you because it hurts you and the credit card company if your debt is eventually going to collectors. A lower rate means it will cost you less to pay off the balance and possibly sooner.
You can gain a lot more control over all aspects of your life once you control your finances. By following the above steps, you’ll be on the path to getting that control. Remember that once, maybe long ago, you were not in debt with credit card payments. You can do it again and enjoy a more stress free life.