Managing your money can be a real pain in the rear end. If you’re in debt, then you probably have people calling you or sending you mail to remind you of your debt every month. Then you have food, bills like insurance and phone, and all sorts of other stuff. How do you keep track of it all? You can start with this simple money management plan to get you going.
1. Figure out your bills
A surprisingly large number of people have no idea exactly how much they fork out every month in bills, rent or mortgage (as applicable), and all of the other monthly payments you make to various places for various things. The first step to any feasible money management plan is to sit down and figure out what you spend. Once you have an idea of how much you spend every month, you have a better idea of what you need to stay afloat.
2. Create a debt elimination plan
Being in debt sucks and it should be your number one priority to figure out how to eliminate as much of it as possible as quickly as possible. Debt is not only dragging down your credit, but it’s also negatively affecting your credit, your debt-to-income ratio, and it’s less money in your pocket every month. You should make a plan to pay off your debt. If you’re already making monthly payments, try to pay more every month if you can afford it. If you have debts that you don’t pay on, you should call those companies to either arrange settlements or begin monthly payments. The sooner you start, the sooner you get it over with.
3. Develop a budget
Now that you have an idea of what you spend every month and how you plan to get rid of debt, it’s time to set up a budget. On a budget you can better manage your money, put some money away for a rainy day, and more effectively eliminate your debt. Budgets can be hard to stick to but a fun trick I’ve always used is to have an entertainment budget line every month, where you can splurge on things like eating out or attending fun events. If you don’t budget, you may overspend one month and all of a sudden you’re behind on your bills and you have to start over again from scratch.
4. Improve your credit
There are ways to get credit cards even if your credit is pretty bad. They’re not the most desirable credit cards, but hey, welcome to having fair to poor credit! Use the credit cards to build your credit. Don’t overspend and don’t get into more debt, but improving your credit is important if you ever want to do something like buy a house or a car again. Talk to your bank to see what they offer in terms of credit cards and credit-building opportunities.
5. Create an investment plan
This is going to be the toughest one for a lot of folks because this is something many people never do. The idea of investing your money is that it grows over time. If you invest well, you essentially give yourself free money. If you don’t know anything about investment, now is the perfect time to learn. You can call various investment firms, search the internet, or maybe even take a class to learn how to properly invest your money. Once you learn how it’s done, find a way to do it and then do it. Investing may not sound like the best idea now but in 10 or 20 years, you could reap the benefits of your labor.
6. Track your net worth
This sounds difficult but it’s actually quite easy. Here’s what you do. You take everything you have in terms of assets, cash, and properties and add up all of the value. Then, take all of your debts (including your credit card balance) and subtract them from the value. The result is your net worth. You can become rich without actually having a lot of money. For instance, you may have $100 in your savings account but drive a $5,000 car. That means your net worth is $5,100. Once you perform the prior five steps, you should calculate your net worth every month to see if it’s trending up or trending down. If you’re doing it right, it should be trending up. From there you can create goals and work toward making yourself well off.
It may seem like these six steps are easy to follow, and they are. However, it does take a certain level of discipline and that’s where people have problems. You can create all of the money management plans you want but if you don’t have the self-control to follow through, then it’s all going to be totally useless.
Featured photo credit: Rap Fix via rapfix.mtv.com