The year two thousand thirteen is almost upon us. This is the time of year for reflection and goal setting. Money management is an area that almost everyone wants to improve in. For this reason I'm going to do a little series of posts about improving your money/budgeting skills for 2013.
First up, my top 5 money tips.
1. Set an appointment with yourself. Once a week make it a point to sit down and pay your upcoming bills, update your budget and make sure however you are tracking your expenses is up to date. Think about it this way, if you have a TV show you always watch once a week, you can set aside a half hour or so to keep your money in order. By making this appointment with yourself, you'll avoid late fees on bills, you'll be more likely to stay within budget, and you will have a better sense of your money as a whole.
2. Track your expenses. (Look for an upcoming post elaborating on this.) A lot of people don't do it because they think it's too restrictive or it's too time consuming. I honestly feel that it's more freeing because when I'm shopping I know how much I can spend and still be able to pay my bills when I get home. As for the "it's too time consuming" excuse, there are so many ways to keep track of your expenses that it really doesn't have to take that much time. Plus if you set an appointment with yourself to keep up with it once a week, it really won't be that much trouble at all.
3. Realize your money spending weaknesses and come up with solutions to fix them. Whether it's spending too much on fast food because you don't have a plan for dinner, or always paying late fines because you forgot about a bill, library books, etc. Try to come up with a simple solution to fix it. The fast food fix? Maybe you have some homemade chicken noodle soup frozen in the freezer so you know when you're running late you can just heat and eat it for dinner. (I did this last winter and it worked like a charm, one evening I made chicken noodle soup for dinner and just made a lot extra, then froze it in individual serving size sandwich bags. Dinner could be made in under 5 minutes, you can't beat that.) As for the late fines that brings me to my next point...
4. Use your calender. Lots of people use some sort of planner or agenda (paper or electronic) to keep track of their work or social schedule but have you ever thought about writing down some budget reminders on there. Write on your calender your weekly money management appointment with yourself but also write down when your cable bill is due, when your library books are due. This way when you see these things coming up on your calender, you can take the necessary steps to take care of them on time.
5. Set goals. I am definitely going to devote a whole post to financial goal setting but its definitely something worth mentioning here. Having goals gives you something to work towards and something to measure yourself against. If you're married then it's important that you and your spouse are working towards the same goals. Whether your goal is saving a certain amount, paying off debt, or finishing your basement you definitely need to set a goal, write it down (and post it somewhere you can see like the fridge or if you don't want everyone who comes over to see it maybe some place like inside a kitchen cabinet door) and then come up with a plan of how you are actually going to achieve that goal.
I hope these 5 tips help at least one person out there achieve some of their 2013 financial goals. So what are some other areas you are making New Years resolutions in?