Money management skills are important, no matter who you are. That’s because money doesn’t take care of itself — and if you don’t save, invest, and spend your money wisely, you’ll undoubtedly suffer for it. With that in mind, here are a few rules on money management to take to heart.
1. Know what you’re doing. Making financial choices at haphazard is never a good idea. Everyone needs a plan in place for the future. Determine, for example, what you’re going to do with the money you save up. Are you going to buy a new home? Invest in the stock market? Start a retirement fund? While each of these might be viable options, you need to know which one you’re actually aiming at.
2. Track spending. So many people have no clear idea of how much money they are spending each month. This leads to overspending, and can cause trouble if an individual buys more than they can afford. The simple solution is to record your purchases as you make them, keeping a running total of your outlay for that month as you go.
3. Limit spending. Now, use the data you’ve gathered to cut down on your expenses. Controlling spending is hard — most people have a hard time stopping themselves from buying unnecessary, or too costly products. That’s why combing through your purchases at the end of each month is such a good idea. You’ll be able to separate the things you really need from the stuff you only want, and so modify your buying behavior going forward.
4. Be organized. Having your financial affairs in good working order is key. One good idea is to keep all important financial documents — bills, tax returns, etc. — in one single place in your home. That way, you’ll know where to look when you need a particular item. It’s especially important to keep close track of documents you might need later (such as insurance policies or documents related to taxes).
5. Save. It’s a simple financial reality: we all need to save for the future. Aside from the importance of putting money aside for retirement or other long-term necessities (such as a college fund, if you’re a parent), it’s also important to set aside money for a rainy day. You never know when financial trouble — in the form of an economic downturn, a lost job, or something else — will hit. So prepare for whatever the future holds by putting something aside each month.
Many folks do a terrible job of money management — don’t let yourself be one of these people. A little care and attention to the basics of money management are all you need to set yourself on the right path. Learning the five rules described here is a great start.