Gosh, but money is a touchy subject, isn’t it? When we’re not good with it, we feel embarrassed, ashamed, and overwhelmed with but-I’m-smart-why-do-I-keep-screwing-this-up? And when we manage it wisely, we just might be the source of jealousy or even how-does-she-do-it gossip.
But devotedly ignoring things rarely gets anyone anywhere. With that in mind, here are five things you can (and should!) do if you’re serious about getting your financial life in order.
5 ways to get your finances under control
1. Make a real budget
Yes, I know. You’ve heard this a million times before. For good reason! We manage what we monitor and you’d be amazed how quickly those $4 lattes and $17 Target sweaters add up.
Your budget needn’t be anything fancy – it can just be a spreadsheet listing your monthly income and recurring bills. If you want something more involved, check out Dave Ramsey’s free forms or Mint.com. Once you’ve decided how much you can spend, make it easier on yourself by leaving your credit cards at home, freezing them, or covering them with a photo of something you’re saving for.
My trick? Give yourself a ‘fun allowance’ and withdraw that amount from the ATM each week. Once the cash is gone? It’s soup and library books for you, my friend.
2. Actually understand your job benefits
Be ye not so stupid as me, friends. Really, actually read through that huge binder your HR person gives you. Google what you don’t understand. Schedule a meeting with HR to go over anything that’s not clear. It’s estimated that benefits can add as much as 30% value to any job – you might as well understand them and take advantage of them!
3. Put your school loans on auto-pay
Do you have school loans? (Dur. Yes.) If you put them on autopay you a) don’t have to worry about writing a check once a month b) can save .25%. I realize that doesn’t sound like much, but when you’re repaying tens of thousands of dollars, it adds up! And remember, you can deduct student loan interest from your taxes!
4. If you know you can use a credit card wisely, get one with great rewards
If you know you struggle with impulse purchases and you’ve had credit card debt in the past, take a pass on this one. But if you can manage a credit card, getting one with good rewards can make a huuuuuge difference.
I have a Capital One card because it has amazing travel rewards and I put ev.ery.thing on it – I even pay my utilities with it! I pay it off every month and I’ve already received hundreds of dollars worth of rewards this year.
5. Think about ways you can cut spending
You can find a million good ideas for living a good life on a budget here.
How’s your relationship with money? How do you save + manage it?