As you grow to be an independent adult, it is vital that you understand how to properly manage your finances. If you weren’t given an education in finances or you just need to brush up on your skills, you’ve come to the right place. No matter where you are on life’s path, you can always learn new ways to improve your financial situation. Here are some of the ways in which you can do it.
Even in a world of online bank accounts, you should still be balancing your checkbook. It is so easy for things to get lost, or to not really know how much you have spent in any one month. Use your online checking information as a tool to sit down once a month and add up all your debits and credits the old fashioned way. You can catch errors and mistakes that are in your favor, as well as protect yourself from fraudulent charges and identity theft.
Always consider a used car before buying new. Pay cash when possible, to avoid financing. A car will depreciate the minute you drive it off the lot. Should your financial situation change and you have to sell it, you might find it’s worth less than you owe. This can quickly lead to financial failure if you’re not careful.
Home equity loans are tempting but dangerous. If you miss a payment on a home equity loan, you could lose your home. Make sure that you can afford the monthly payments and that you have a significant emergency savings built up before taking out any loans against your home.
If you are engaged to be married, consider protecting your finances and your credit with a prenup. Prenuptial agreements settle property disputes in advance, should your happily-ever-after not go so well. If you have older children from a previous marriage, a prenuptial agreement can also help confirm their right to your assets.
Automatic bill payments should be reviewed quarterly. Most consumers are taking advantage of many of the automatic financial systems available that pay bills, deposit checks and pay off debts on their own. This does save time, but the process leaves a door wide open for abuse. Not only should all financial activity be reviewed monthly, the canny consumer will review his automatic payment arrangements very closely every three to four months, to ensure they are still doing exactly what he wants them to.
If you save your change from cash purchases, it can accrue over time to a nice chunk of money, that you can use to supplement your personal finances anyway you want. It can be used for something that you have been wanting but couldn’t afford, such as a new guitar or if you want to make it work for you, it can be invested.
Cut down on impulse purchases and frivolous spending by converting your cash to gift cards that can be used at your preferred grocery store. This gives you less money to waste on unnecessary items, yet ensures that you still have the financial resources to purchase necessities like groceries. Grocery stores with gas stations often offer fuel discounts on purchases made with gift cards.
Managing your finances can be especially difficult if you have children. Reduce unnecessary expenditures by setting aside a predetermined amount that is to be spent on each child for the month – you may want to put it in an envelope labeled with the child’s name. Fast food, treats, and entertainment are limited to the amount set aside in the envelope; once it’s gone, it’s gone.
Being sensible with money is one of the hallmarks of a reliable, mature individual. You can become this person if you want to. It only takes a little bit of discipline and an understanding of where you can pinch some pennies and save. You can use the tips above to gain a better grip on your financial situation.