Financial Changes: Take Charge of Your Money

Do you constantly check the amount of money in your saving or checking accounts? Is this a nervous habit that occurs mainly before the next pay day? If so, then maybe it’s a good time to make some financial changes that will help your bottom line and put you firmly in charge of your money.

Do you know where your spending money goes each month?

If you don’t even bother looking at the credit statements in the mail or online, it is impossible to figure out where the problem lies. There may be clues there that can give an indication as to where the problem lies. Take the time to track your spending in a spreadsheet or notebook.

Do you pay too much attention on the short term, rather than the long term?

Many people have trouble budgeting month to the month. One-time expenses or unexpected costs can throw off the entire process. If you look at your finances over the time span of a year, you can see the big picture and plan more effectively. Research at several universities has demonstrated that college students were much more accurate when they budgeted by the year.

Are there any everyday expenses that you can cut?

These can add up quickly, even when it’s just a daily pack of gum or a beer after work. Many people like to point to that cup of coffee many buy on the way to work every morning. That money could make
you a millionaire if invested wisely.

Do you understand what your own particular weaknesses are?

You may not recognize all your weaknesses, but you surely understand some of them. Whatever the items that you feel compelled to spend money on, you can control that spending. If you just feel the need to
shop, go to the dollar store. If you spend too much time shopping, bring a stopwatch. Consider bringing a long a buddy who is also trying to curb spending. There is strength in numbers.

Are you setting aside too much of your paycheck?

Although this may sound odd, compulsive saving can put you in a situation where you can’t pay the bills. If you are socking money away into your savings instead of paying off your credit card bills, you are really losing money on the interest you pay for those credit cards. Be level-headed about your savings. Pay off your debts and switch to debit to avoid problems like this coming up again.

Are big ticket purchases hurting your situation more than the smaller ones?

It’s easy to convince ourselves that a large purchase is a one-time event. But the expense is easily forgotten a few months later and another tempting big expense comes along. Don’t fall into that trap. When you take measures to save money on every large expense and only buy the big ticket items you really need, you’ll save yourself from overspending.

Should you be carrying so much debt?

It costs $1,500 per year to carry the debt on a $10,000 dollar credit card at 15% interest. A $10,000 car loan at 6% costs you $600 per year. Is it worth it, or can some of this be paid off? How can you cut expenses elsewhere to pay down the debt and stop throwing away money on interest.

Jessica Bosari writes for billeater.com. For more help managing money, pay a visit to the site.

8 Responses to Financial Changes: Take Charge of Your Money

  1. I check all my online bank accounts at least once a week. It used to be more, but now that everything is automated, I check less b/c I trust my system.

    • Daniel says:

      @Financial Samurai, I check Mint every morning. Part of that is to make sure the transactions are labeled correctly. It also keeps me honest with my purchases. There’s no escaping a purchase: it’s right there in the morning, staring me in the eyes.

  2. I’ve gotten my budget down to where I know exactly where my money is going. I’ve stayed on track with paying down my debt and saving a small portion of my income (this will need to increase soon!). I also check my balances every few days or so but I am not nearly as paranoid about over-drafting as I was 5 years ago because I have a built in safety net, or overdraft account with funds to cover any mistake.

    • Daniel says:

      @Little House, I no longer fear overdrafting because I have a nice fat buffer in my accounts. Still, the hands-on managing of my money makes me very aware of everything that’s going on and I absolutely love it.

  3. kt says:

    as for my weaknesses. i am very easily influenced by eye catching advertisements. Whenever i see a product in a very nice ad, i start mentally allocating funds for it. More often than not it is something that i really do not need and the euphoria dies down before i sink thousands of dollars in a gadget that i wont want after a week

  4. Everyday Tips says:

    I look at my checking account and recent purchases on my credit card every week. When the market was good and such, I used to look at all my balances a lot more frequently. Now I just find it depressing! :)

    My weakness is eating lunch with friends when the kids are at school. But since I am so busy in the evenings, that is basically my only social life, so I don’t feel so bad about it. Or maybe I am just using that as justification. Either way, I doubt my habit will change unless something changes for us financially.

  5. Nunzio Bruno says:

    Those are some great questions to be asking yourself. I’m a financial planner/coach and have Financially Digital but even I lose sight of the long term every once and a while. I can also say that I’m guilty of falling guilty to big ticket items that get forgotten about. Thanks for getting me thinking!

  6. Interesting take on oversaving. Now, if there is something to be disciplined with, saving would be it (coming from a PF blogger) Can’t save too much, the way I look at it!

    The thing is, I assume that of course people would pay their bills first. Paying yourself first is a great concept, but you have to eliminate existing debt. If someone is letting credit card debt get out of hand in order to save some money in an interest-bearing checking account, that’s remarkable!

    I totally agree on recording expenses, at least for a short period of time. I periodically do this to audit my spending. It can be eye opening if one hasn’t ever tracked expenses, or hasn’t done it in years.

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