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5 Tips on How to Manage Your Finances More Efficiently

5 Tips on How to Manage Your Finances More Efficiently

In my school, I had to know how DNA is replicated and why the War of the Roses was called that – but finances, nope! Mathematics and arithmetics are fun (not really), but they did not provide me with what I really need today – and that is how to have enough money to survive from one paycheck to the next.

In this article, I presume that you have a job, or at least some sort of income, and I have a good guess that you are not good at managing your finances; well, guess what? Nobody is. Unless you are Donald Trump and you are born rich.

The rest of us, we have to make do with what we’ve got, and it usually isn’t enough. Mortgages, credits, student debt and other nasty words such as these can creep up on you when you least expect it and ruin your chances of visiting Italy this year, or the next for that matter.

Well, unless you’ve developed a great singing talent while reading my introductory paragraph, and you’re planning on making big bucks while singing country songs, prepare to read our 5 tips for making yourself more financially stable.

1. Know Your Expenses

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    This is the first, and probably the most important item here. You need to know exactly how much you and your family are bringing in, and how much is going out. This might seem like a true hassle and a lot of paperwork, but you need to know the current state of affairs.

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    It might seem obvious, but you should spend less than you earn, as that would be the perfect case scenario; then, you’re done and you can stop reading right now. If you find yourself on the negative side, no matter how impossible that might sound, a lot of people actually live like that, yes, it is somewhat stressful, but it is possible.

    Once you get to know where your money is going, and what kind of life it is living, it is also important to know terms like investing, taxes, insurance and retirement plans. Once again, nobody mentioned those things while you were in college, and somehow, they are trying to actively ruin your life. Remember: Google is your friend – if you don’t know something, google it immediately; only knowledge can help you with your financial troubles. Or rich uncles – they are also a nice solution.

    When creating a list of expenses, try to find something that looks like something you can live without. Maybe you don’t really need that gym membership, since the last time you visited, Christina Aguilera was still popular. On the other hand, maybe you can give a few dollars more on a bank account that will make all ATM withdrawals free – you never know where some hidden expenses might be unless you play this game of hide and seek.

    The most important thing here – be honest with yourself; the only person you could be lying to here is yourself (and people are quite good at that; I know I am – I’m looking at you, diet). The more honest and reasonable you are, the more rational decisions you will be able to make. Ask a friend to help you, your mother or father, unless they plan on nagging about how fiscally irresponsible you are.

    2. Learn What to Rent, and What to Buy

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      Many people do not agree about whether it is better to buy stuff or simply rent it – in the long run, that is. For example, if you are planning on renting a home, where you plan on living with your family, it is better to think about buying it permanently, via bank credit. Renting may sound like a good solution for now, but after 10 years (and trust me, time passes by quickly) you might regret only renting, when you could have paid off 70% of your home by that time.

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      On the other hand, renting a DVD might be a much better solution than buying it. I know, nobody buys DVDs anymore, but you get my point. Do not go in blindly and buy everything you need; there is probably a service that can provide you with the same result, for less money. If you’re having money issues, it’s a better idea to join the local library than buy every book you want.

      If you plan on using something for a long time, then it is better to buy – it is called cost analysis, and it sounds difficult, because it is. It involves not only money, but whether you actually need that item, and how much money that item will cost you in the future. Even though I mentioned that you should take a bank loan and buy a home, it is not a piece of advice I give out lightly.

      You should be 110% sure that you can survive such an adventure, and then decide. Think about your future mortgage and when you should start paying it off. Maintain a high credit score, which means that you cannot use your credit card like Monopoly money; only buy what you can actually afford.

      3. Play the Responsible Game – Invest

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        Now, this is something everyone needs professional help with. Finances are all around us, and they are way more complicated than we’ve ever imagined. Investing may sound like magic from a Harry Potter book and, while it might actually be quite similar, it has real-life consequences, and you should be on the winning side. The more you know about the financial instruments at your disposal, the better choices you’ll be able to make, and you’ll know when to back away.

        Investing into your 401(k) plan is also an investment, even though many people don’t consider it that way. Whenever you get your paycheck, a small portion is set aside, and after years, especially when you’re older and unable to work, you’ll have money on the side, or in case of an emergency.

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        If, on the other hand, you’re interested in stocks, there are many options that we cannot cover in an entire article itself. That is why it is better to find someone who does that sort of thing professionally, but even then be mindful of what you’re doing.

        Another type of investing can be insurance. There are many kinds of insurances. You can insure almost anything (it’s even said that Jennifer Lopez insured her behind, so there’s that fun fact). You never know when you might need a large sum of money for something unexpected. Hey, nobody likes thinking about this kind of stuff, but it is a part of life.

        Life insurance might help your family if someone unexpectedly dies, and health insurance will help you with doctors’ bills. Home insurance will help you in case of break-ins, natural disasters and what-not. Like I said, it is all dark stuff, but dark stuff happens.

        4. Always Have a Savings Account

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          Once you’ve surveyed your finances, and found some money you are willing to set aside, then it is a good idea to start a savings account.

          Choose any bank, just don’t try to hide your money under your bed. Not only will a bank give you a small interest (in this case, you are lending your money to a bank, and they are paying interest to you – and isn’t that a nice turn of event?), but it will keep your money safe and sound, and always at your disposal. Even a small monthly amount can accrue to a lot of money over a few years, and that can easily become your kid’s college or emergency fund.

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          When creating a savings account, you should always have at least 3 months’ worth of money – so that in case you suddenly lose your job, you have some time to find another without worrying about survival. Another great piece of advice here is to create a special savings account that is not connected to any credit card. This is to prevent yourself from spending that money when you do not really need it. You should not even have easy access to it. It might sound counterintuitive, but it will help you save some money.

          5. Find Additional Income

          Another great piece of advice that might seem too obvious is that you should find another job. There are many agencies that will give you an opportunity to work online as a tutor of almost anything you are good at. Do you know a bit of German or French? Why not use those skills and earn some money in the process. The Eastern markets are full of people who are more than eager to learn Western languages, so it is even possible to be an English teacher, even though you are not fully qualified.

          If you need more radical changes, you can sell off the stuff you don’t use, and make some money that way. Make a yard sale, or even better – put all the things you haven’t used in the last year on eBay, especially things like clothes and electronic appliances.

          Mind you, this won’t solve your finances, but it might help in the short run, especially if you are struggling to get your hands on some quick cash. An additional job will help you in the longer run, but it will probably ruin your personal life, but who needs that anyway.

          All joking aside, finances are no laughing matter. Money can ruin your life or make it great, so it is extremely important to always take care of it. Spend it wisely, invest it properly, and always have a small backup.

          If you are in dire need of some help, either find an additional job or ask a friend for a quick loan. Refrain from banks, but if you cannot avoid them, use their services cautiously, and always bring someone with more experience to the bank; they can help you understand the fine print and make a better decision. Good luck!

          Featured photo credit: http://getrefe.tumblr.com/ via 66.media.tumblr.com

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          Vladimir Zivanovic

          CMO at MyCity-Web

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          Last Updated on January 2, 2019

          How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

          How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

          Do you know what mental health experts point to as the biggest cause of stress in the United States today? If you said “money,” then ding, ding, we have a winner!

          Three out of four adults today report feeling stressed out about money at least part of the time. People are either worried about not having enough money or whether they’re putting the money they do have to use in the best possible way.

          Your money is either in charge of you or you’re in charge of it, there’s no middle ground. Using some type of personal finance software can help alleviate some of that money stress and better allow you to manage your money effectively. Without it, you may just be setting yourself up for constant financial worry. Life is already tough enough and there’s no need to make it more difficult by simply hoping your money issues will all work out in your favor. Hint: they won’t.

          This guide will help you to understand how personal finance software can better assist with both accomplishing long term financial goals and managing day-to-day aspects of life.

          Whether it’s tracking the savings plan for your child’s college fund or making sure you won’t be in the red with the month’s grocery budget, personal finance software keeps all this information in one convenient place.

          What Exactly is Personal Finance Software?

          Think of it like the dashboard in your car. You have a speedometer to tell you how fast you’re going, an odometer to tell you how far you’ve traveled, and then other gauges to tell you things like how much gas is in the tank and your engine temperature. Personal finance software is essentially the same thing for your money.

          When you install this software on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, it helps to track your money — how much is going in, how much is going out, and its growth. Most personal finance software programs will display your budget, spending, investments, bills, savings accounts, and even retirement plans, levels of debt, and credit score.

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          How It Leads to Financial Improvement

          It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but people who regularly monitor their finances end up wealthier than those who don’t. When you were a kid, keeping track of all of your money in a porcelain piggy bank was pretty easy. As we get older, though, our money becomes spread out across things like car payments, mortgages, retirement funds, taxes, and other investments and debts. All of these things make keeping track of our money a lot more complicated.

          Some types of personal finance software can help make things a little less complicated, setting you up to meet financial goals and taking away some of the stress associated with money.

          Even if you already have a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) some type of personal finance software can be of great benefit. Whereas CFPs focus on the big picture of your money, they don’t handle the day-to-day aspects that determine your overall financial health.

          It’s also not nearly as complicated as you might think and can take out a lot of the tedium that comes with doing everything on an Excel spreadsheet or with a pad and pencil.

          Types of Personal Finance Software

          When it comes to personal finance software, it generally fits into two categories: tax preparation and money management.

          Tax preparation software such as Turbo Tax and H&R Block’s software can help with everything from filing income taxes to IRS rules and regulations and even estate plans. Plus, there’s the benefit of filing online and getting your refund check a lot faster than if you were to mail off your forms after waiting in line at the post office.

          For the purpose of this article, however, will be focusing more on the personal finance software that aids with money management.

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          Money management personal finance software will help you to see the health of your cash flow, pay down debt, forecast for expenses and savings, track investments, pay bills, and do a host of other things that 30 years ago would have practically required a team of accountants.

          When to Use Personal Finance Software

          So far we’ve gone over what exactly personal finance software is and how it can be a benefit to your money. The next logical step in this whole equation is determining when it should be used and how is the best way to go about getting started using it.

          Below are four of the most common and practical ways to use personal finance software. If all or any of these apply to you and your money, then downloading some type of personal finance software is going to be a smart move.

          1. You Have Multiple Accounts

          There’s a good chance that when it comes to your money, it’s in more than one place. Sure, you probably have a checking account, but you may also have a savings account, money market account, and retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401k.

          If you’re like the average American, you probably have two to three credit cards as well. Fifty percent of Americans also don’t have loyalty to just one bank and spread their money across multiple banks.

          Rather than spending hours typing in every detail of every account you have into a spreadsheet, many programs allow you to easily import your account information. This will help to eliminate any mistakes and give you a bird’s eye view of everything at once.

          2. You Want to Automate Some or All of Your Payments

          Please don’t say that you’re still writing out paper checks and dropping each bill in the mailbox. While it’s noble that you’re doing your part to keep postal workers employed, we’re 18 years into the 21st century and you can literally pay every bill online now.

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          There’s no need to log into every account you have and type in your routing number either.

          With personal finance software you can schedule automatic payments and transfers between all of your imported accounts. Automatic transfers will help to make sure you have the necessary funds in the right account to ensure all bills are paid on the appropriate date. Late fees are annoying and do nothing but cost you money. It’s time that you said goodbye to them once and for all.

          3. You Need to Streamline Your Budget

          Perhaps the best feature of personal finance software is that it allows you track everything going in and out of your virtual wallet.

          Nearly every brand of personal finance software out there has easy-to-read graphs and charts that allow you track every cent you spend or earn, should you choose. You might be pretty amazed when you see just how much you spent on eating out last month or if you splurged a little more than you should have on Christmas gifts last year.

          Every successful business on the planet has a budget and using personal finance software can help you trim the fat on your spending in ways that affect your everyday life.

          4. You Have Specific Goals to Meet

          Maybe it’s paying off debt or saving for up something like a European vacation. Whatever your financial goal is, whether it’s long-term or short-term, personal finance software programs are one of the savviest ways to go about reaching those goals.

          You can do everything from set spending alerts to notify you when you’re over budget to automating what percentage of your paycheck goes to things like retirement investments. The personal finance software that you choose should show you exactly how close you are to hitting those goals at any given time.

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          How to Get Started

          From AceMoney to Mint and Quicken, there ’s no shortage of personal finance software apps out there. Many of these programs are free to download and will allow you to pay bills, invest, monitor your net worth and credit profile, and even get a loan with the swipe of a finger.

          Other programs may only offer you limited services and will require a one-time fee or subscription to unlock all that they offer. These fees can often vary from as little as two dollars to 50 bucks a month.

          It’s best to start off with the free version and then gauge whether you’re able to accomplish everything you’d like or if it’s worth exploring one of the paid options. Often times the subscription programs come with assistance from financial planning and investment experts — so that can be a real benefit.

          When deciding which personal finance software program to use, it’s also important to look at how many accounts you wish to monitor. Certain programs limit the number of accounts you can add. Be sure that if you have checking, credit card, and investment accounts to monitor, that you choose a service that can monitor them all.

          Finally, when looking around for the right personal finance software that meets your needs, make sure that you’re comfortable with the program’s interface. It shouldn’t be expected that you recognize every single feature instantly, but if the features don’t seem readable and manageable to you, then you’re not as likely to use it and get the full benefits.

          Final Thoughts

          Personal finance software can go a long way in helping you to take control of your money and meeting your financial goals. It’s important to note, however, that some focus more on budgeting and expense tracking while others prioritize investing portfolios and income taxes. Explore several different programs and read reviews to find the one that’s right for you.

          In this day and age, managing one’s personal finances in a secure manner that allows the user to have a real-time visual representation of their money is easier than ever before. With the numerous applications that are out there — both free and subscription-based — there’s no reason that every person can’t take control of their money and ensure they’re making smart money moves.

          Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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