8 Ways To Managing Your Finances Better
With fall just around the corner, you’ve probably already started pursuing your favourite online shops for all of the favourite things you want to purchase for fall. Maybe it’s a new set of boots, a stylish new tactical wallet for an upcoming long weekend escape, or maybe you’re saving up for something really substantial like a new car or home. However you want to use those resources in the upcoming year, there’s no time like the present to do a little personal financial audit and make sure you are maximizing the efficiency of your financial situation. Let’s explore a few ways to manage those dollars and cents.
Managing Your Finances 101
Analyze Your Income & Budget Balance
Most financial advice will almost always start with a simple, fundamental step which is ‘create a budget.’ It can be a long, drawn out and tedious task - Unless you are an economist or accountant, pouring over your expenses is not exactly exciting or eye-opening. But before you throw a budget together, how much is coming in? If you’re a salaried employee, you’ll have a solid handle on how much you have to work with. If you’re a freelancer, business owner or entrepreneur, it can be a bit trickier because you will experience windfalls and downfalls. However, you’ll still have enough of an idea to map out a workable budget.
Use Budgeting or Tracking Apps
Never before in the history of humanity has there been such an abundance of tools to help us manage our lives, especially our finances. There are plenty of budget and spend tracking apps that can help you monitor your spending. It’s likely that your own bank has a number of automated tools that you can use to be better with your budget. Some banks offer to ‘round up’ certain purchases and automatically put the leftover into a savings account. You can easily set up auto-matic payment for your bills so you’re never late. And if you’re focused on a retirement or education fund, there are plenty of apps to help you calculate out those future expenses, help you create a plan to save for them, and then help you execute those plans.
Live Within Your Means
Your eyes are likely rolling far back into your head because you’ve heard this before! And for good reason! Having a budget is often misconstrued as a way to limit yourself from doing the things you want, or buy the things you want, when it should be viewed as a way to get what you want! How much better do you feel when you’re able to buy that sought after tactical wallet, or throw down a deposit on that car you want, and you know full well you won’t be going into the red when you do it? Living within your means and not overspending means you have financial freedom later.
Be Careful with Those Monthly Subscriptions
How many times have you seen some sort of subscription club show up in your Facebook or Instagram feed. Whether it’s a shaving club, a food box subscription or an online magazine subscription, all of these monthly fees can add up over a year's time. Maybe you signed up for a trial subscription and forgot to turn it off. Or maybe you keep forgetting to cancel it. If your income is stable and consistent, then you have nothing to stress about. But if your income is up and down, you may want to throw those subscriptions on pause, or wait for a promotion.
Barter and Negotiate for As Much as You Can
In many parts of the world, we are so used to paying whatever we’re told to pay. Whether it’s our mobile bill, our cable and internet bills or any other bill that is negotiable, don’t take the first offer as gospel. The time for negotiation is not after you use the services (obviously!) If you are signing up for a new internet package, or a new cable package, find out what the promotions are, and do the math. Do they make sense? Also, don’t be afraid to shop around. It’s important to maximize value wherever you can.
Create a Healthy Relationship with Your Credit Card
Credit cards are often deemed the enemy because of the potential financial damage they can do. And it’s true, credit card debt comprises some of the most devastating types of debt because of their high interest rates. However, if used correctly, credit cards can be your best friend, especially cash back or travel-focused credit cards. If you are disciplined enough to always pay off your balance every month, credit cards help you establish credit, and provide you a variety of benefits.
Invest for the Short & Long Term
It’s important to have a short term savings account or rainy day account. This savings account is great for those unforeseen emergencies. For example, if you lose your job suddenly, you should try to have an average of three months salary and expenses saved up so you have some breathing room. You can take your time searching for a new job, while simultaneously making sure your bills and expenses don’t fall behind. Your long term investments should be for things like retirement, a new home, school tuition, new car, or larger expenditures that you may have in the distant future.
Leave room in your monthly budget for something fun! Living within your means should not mean that you don’t get to reward yourself for all of the hard work you put into your life. This notion of denying yourself everything and sacrificing all of your joy for the sake of saving is a toxic one. Life is short, and you should absolutely be able to enjoy things in the moment because that rainy day is never a guarantee. So go on then, go get that super luxurious shave and haircut from that upscale barber downtown you’ve passed by a few times. Take yourself out to that favourite restaurant once a month, and enjoy having someone else cook for you. Or buy that book you’ve been thinking about, but made a mountain of excuses not to snag. Or finally invest in that luxurious leather men's wallet that you've always wanted. No need to be a financial martyr, enjoying life is just as important as saving for the future.
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