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Not Sure How to Set Up a Weekly Money Routine? Read This Now!

Not Sure How to Set Up a Weekly Money Routine? Read This Now!

Tired of all the chatter from friends, family and media about the importance of good financial habits? Ready to get your financial house in order, but wish you knew more about how to develop a plan of your own?

You’re in luck! Developing a weekly money routine is easier than it may sound. Get started with these easy tips. (Bonus! You can implement them all today.)

1. Think “routine,” not “resolution.”

Healthy financial habits are not about drafting more resolutions as likely to fail as anything else you promise each New Year. Instead they’re about building just that — habits. Start by shifting your thinking from an immediate push for a quick fix to debt or other financial woes, and focus instead on creating routines that allow you to strengthen your financial position every time you take out your wallet. Slow change can be lasting change.

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2. Learn The Secret.

Millions of people around the world are strong adherents to the Law of Attraction, which generally states that what you think about most is what you will attract. Instead of focusing on debt and the negative emotions that come with it — such as despair, hopelessness, frustration, impatience, or envy — focus with a positive attitude on your efforts to obtain, earn, or attract more money. Be proud of your efforts, and allow the process to keep you calm and centered as you work your way out of debt and into a better financial future.

3. Get real — with yourself.

How and why is money important to you? Is money, or lack thereof, keeping you in a job or living situation that you do not like or is not safe? Do you wish you had a romantic partner who earned more? While your first thought may be that you would party like a rockstar given the funding, for most folks, that simply is not part of the fantasy. Really think about what you want, and how much it costs. Do you want a private school education for your children? A safer neighborhood? The funds for a dog or other pets? Leisure to take two trips a year? Do you know how much each of these things costs? Do the research and write down your goal; make that goal as specific as possible.

4. Sketch it out.

Part of your candid assessment is how you spend. Do you buy coffee every morning at five bucks a pop? Do you get your nails done once a month? Do you tend to spend a lot of money when one of your friends has a birthday? Do you blow your budget in November and December on holiday temptations? Do you even have a budget?

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There is no wrong answer here, but you can’t change where you’re going until you know clearly where you are. Break out a pocket calendar, and sketch out how you spend. This does not have to be specific, but you want to think in enough detail to be able to identify trends. Is there a particular sport that when in season finds you buying drinks in bars more often to watch it? Do you avoid the summer heat or winter cold, and end up splurging on movies and other indoor entertainment? Is happy hour regularly expected by your boss or co-workers?

5. Trim your own fat.

Your money is yours, your priorities are yours, and your lifestyle choices are yours. Take a look at your spending sketch and question yourself about why you spend the way that you do. Do you really enjoy those happy hours, or do you need to stand up to your cubicle mates and only go once a month? Does your family expect, need, or want piles of gifts each holiday season, or do you buy them to alleviate the guilt of not visiting enough during the rest of the year?

Sometimes, the answer is as simple as, “I like that activity, that is part of my lifestyle, and it makes me happy/relaxes me/I enjoy it.” Great! Mark those items as important. You will likely find that you can trim the fat from things that you feel obligated to do, without having to sacrifice what you truly enjoy and want to spend your hard-earned funds pursuing.

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6. Measure your success.

Set a monetary goal for every week of the next three months, based on your calendar. Maybe it’s spending $10 less every time you go out; maybe it’s going out less; it could be finding the strength to avoid holiday sales; maybe it’s putting money aside from your paycheck immediately. Perhaps it’s all of those things, one for each week of the month. Be specific. Write each goal down. At the conclusion of each week, note your successes and areas that were more difficult. Be sure to note partial successes, too — if you saved $5 when your goal was $10, that’s still progress. At the conclusion of three months, evaluate your goals — are they consistently realistic? Can you be more ambitious?

7. Ask around, and share ideas.

Think you’re alone in your pursuit of wealth? Everyone is trying to accumulate more of the green stuff. Talk to your friends about your goals, and ask if they have any ideas for ways to save money. Pay particular attention to those who live in your area and have similar lifestyle patterns, because their tips and tricks are already proven.

Over time you will become more comfortable with your new weekly routine. Remember to revisit and update your goals frequently, and enjoy the abundance that comes your way.

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Ready to learn more about financial goal setting? Check out these 13 Basic Rules to Grow your Wealth Effectively.

Featured photo credit: www.seniorliving.org via flickr.com

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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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