Published on July 9, 2009
The ABCs of Managing Money
Budgeting isn’t always easy – but it doesn’t have to be impossible. And it’s worth it. You’ll live with less worry now, and endure fewer headaches later on. Luckily, the Geezeo blog has come up with some basic money management strategies that are as simple as ABC. Follow their guidelines to squash your debt, start saving, and stop wasting money.
A is for …
Always Keep Track
You should always keep track of all of your accounts, and running balances of those accounts – specifically, the ones that you use on a daily basis. This will help prevent late payments or being overdrawn on your checking accounts, or going over your limit on your credit accounts.
B is for …
Build Credit Carefully
You don’t want to run out and snatch up every credit card offer you receive. Be selective, and don’t go crazy. You want as many as you can handle, and that you can keep in good standing (preferably paid off), but not so many that you lose track or risk running up the bills.
C is for …
Cut Down on Non-Essentials
If you are trying to pay off debt, then you should reduce or even eliminate non-essential items. The money you save could could give you extra money to put towards your other debts.
D is for …
Destroy Possible Ways to Fall into Debt Again
If you find it hard to resist the urge to max out your credit card again, then you may want to consider cutting them up. If you want to have them “in case of emergency”, be sure to leave them at home (unless you’re about to be somewhere you couldn’t easily get to them – like going on a road trip)
E is for …
Execute a Plan of Action
A goal, without a plan, is just a dream. You should always map out how you plan to budget better, or how you plan to track your spending, or how you want to pay off your debt. If you don’t, you could get lost quite easily.
F is for …
Figure Out All of Your Debt
If you are wanting to budget in order to get control of your debt and pay it off, you need to know how much you owe and to whom you owe it.
G is for …
It’s time to take responsibility for yourself and your actions. If you are old enough to obtain debt, then you are old enough to pay it off. You can’t rely on anyone but yourself.
H is for …
Have Back-Up Plans (Emergency Funds)
It’s important to save up enough money to have a cushion. You should determine what your goal is. For some it’s 3-6 months. For others, it’s at least a year’s worth. You need enough to take care of you in an emergency, as well as if you lost your job. If you do lose your job and don’t find one right away, you want to have enough money saved up to pay your bills at least for a time.
I is for …
Include Every Debt
Don’t ignore a debt because you don’t think it’s important. When paying off your debts, you should include all of them so you have have a full financial picture of where you are.
J is for …
Just Do It!
Sometimes you just have to suck it up and take care of your debt. There are times when you may lack the motivation. However, if that is the case with you, just start doing it, no excuses, and after a while, as the debt starts to decrease, you’ll feel great and want to continue.
K is for …
Keep Yourself in Check!
When it comes to paying off debt, the initial payments can be exciting! For once you are seeing that balance go down. However, “things come up” (which is why we encourage an emergency fund!). So this could affect what you could pay towards your debt. Don’t let it continue once the “emergency” is over. Keep a check on where your money is going (always tracking your accounts) so that you can spot any mishaps in your plans. Don’t get in the habit of making up your own “emergencies” as well. Just because your friends suddenly decide to go out tonight, and you want to go, don’t sacrifice your goals for one night of fun. That’s not to say you can’t go — just try to find a way to cut costs.
L is for …
Live Life for Your Future
Many people will tell you that you should live for today, because you just don’t know what will happen tomorrow. While that may be partially true, you can say the same about tomorrow. You don’t know if you’ll lose your job, or if your child will get sick. So the best thing you could do is “set yourself up for success” so that when these things come up, you are prepared. And keep in mind, there are still plenty of things you can do to enjoy today! You just have to be willing to think outside the box at times.
M is for …
Make It Possible
Whatever your goals are, you have the power to make them reality. Take a proactive role in your finances, and you will find ways to make this possible. Don’t earn enough to put towards your debts? Find ways to create more income. Take up a second/part-time job, start a home-based business, or try moving up in your current job. If you simply don’t know what you owe, create a list of the things you do know about. Think there’s more? Check your credit report (which can also help you spot possible mistakes in your records).
N is for …
Never Go to the Grocery Store Hungry
Here’s a tip that pertains to saving money doing an easy task that everyone has to do at some point: If you are going grocery shopping, try to eat at least a snack before you go. This will help curb the tendency to put whatever looks good in the moment into your cart. When you are hungry, and you are looking at an aisle of food, everything may look good and you won’t be saving money! (Remember to take your list with you to the store as well!)
O is for …
Offer to Take on Extra Shifts
We talked earlier about creating more income with work. An easier way to do this would be to simply take on extra shifts at work, if you can. This will allow you to not have to add a new job, but will still create more income for you to put towards your debts. All you have to do is calculate how much extra you would have from the extra shift(s), and then apply that to a debt.
P is for …
Pursue New Careers
Whether you dislike your current career, or if you see no room for growth, it may be time to look at a new one. Start talking to others who are in your field of choice.
Q is for …
Quit Negative Thinking
Automatic negative thoughts (or ANTs) can be damaging to your success. You should try to keep yourself from automatically assuming that you aren’t going to be able to accomplish something, or that you would, no matter how hard you tried, fail. You have to kill those ANTs as soon as they begin to come in. At first this may not be easy, but if you are keeping an eye out for them, and instantly turning around to think something positive, then you will be able keep those negative thoughts at bay until they are no more.
R is for …
Reduce Costs of Essentials
If you are not able to take on extra shifts or take on a second job, then maybe it’s time to consider if you really NEED to have DVR or if you can downgrade on your internet. If you have a cell phone, do you really need to have a home phone too? There are many areas you can consider when it comes to cutting costs. Many families have chosen to eat at home more. This also contributes to more quality family time as well.
S is for …
Stay Focused on Long-Term Goals
While short term goals are good – it’s good to think about your long term goals. You will want the short term to add up to the long term. If your end goal is to own your own home, then you will want to get rid of credit card debt and the like, as well as start saving for your down payment. These short term goals are going to allow you to attain your long term goal of finally owning your own place.
T is for …
Trouble Won’t Find You, You Find Trouble
Many people blame credit card companies for the problems they have with their debt. However, you are the one who chose to open the card. No one forced you to do it. No one forced you to use the card either. So it is no one else’s fault. Which is why you need to take control. You need to take responsibility. Once you do those things, you will be on the path of financial independence. Stay away from it if you think you may have a problem later.
U is for …
Understand Your Biggest Weaknesses
If you know that you are going to have a hard time resisting the urge to buy that new pair of pumps, then maybe it is best to avoid that store altogether. If you are trying to decide on a big purchase, for instance, a car, and you know you can’t afford to drive anything over $20,000, don’t tempt yourself by test driving something above that price range. When it comes to purchases, big or small, do not test your emotions, because more than likely, you will begin to rationalize while this is better than that, or why you should get something now verses saving up for it later.
V is for …
Variety Is the Spice of Life
When grocery shopping, you may have made your list, and you may have been sticking to it very well. But let’s say that you were going to get roma tomatoes, but the vine tomatoes are on sale. Or how about lettuce for salads but the pre-mixed salad bags are on sale (you could save money AND time on this one). You won’t know if you like something unless you try it, so be open to new experiences. You never know, a recipe might be better with the replacement.
W is for …
Wait Out Your Purchases
If you want something, and it is a big purchase, you may want to wait out the purchase to see if you still want it in 2-3 months. Even 2-3 weeks could allow you enough time to determine if it’s really necessary. If it’s a smaller purchase, you may still want to wait it out as it could go on sale or get even drop in price.
X is for …
X-amine Your Goals
Sometimes you will need to revisit your goals, and adjust them according to your current circumstances. If you realize that a current goal is not attainable with your immediate circumstances, put it on the back burner, and work on the next one. Then revisit it in the future to see if you can do it. As you complete goals, create new ones. Always keep an eye on where things are heading, and you will be able to better stay on track. Also having your goals in a place that is readily seen on a daily basis will help keep your goals fresh in your mind, and hopefully deter you from anything that may get you off track.
Y is for …
You Should Always Have Faith in Yourself
You can do anything as long as you put your mind to it. You should always remember that if you make a decision, work hard at achieving it, you will attain it (even if only eventually). You have to have faith in yourself, and keep telling yourself positive things (avoiding those ANTs).
Z is for …
Zip Up Your Wallet
Don’t spend it just because it’s there – Finally, when it comes to your spending, you should keep track of where you money has gone, and where it needs to go. Just because there is money in your bank account today does not mean you should buy something. You may have upcoming bills you need to pay for first. Or you may even have bills that have not cleared your bank yet. This is why keeping a budget, and keeping track of your accounts is vital. Even better is to keep a check register so that you know what bills you have paid even if they have not cleared your bank.
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