Hindsight, like remorse, makes you sorry you didn’t know then what you know now. Over the years, I learned how to manage my personal and business finances, how to grow three successful small businesses, how to adjust to corporate life and then shift back to self-employment. If I was starting out in life all over again, here are the 15 money tips I would follow.
#1. Reduce Your Monthly Expenses
Create a list of your revolving monthly expenses and look them over. Can you lower your cell phone plan cost? Can you lower your car payment? Can you drive less and fuel less? Never assume that the answer is “No”. If you’re trapped in a contract, make a note of when it expires, then shop around.
#2. Track Your Cash Expenses
Cash tends to pour out of a wallet like water out of a fountain. Keep a small notebook in your wallet and jot down all your cash expenses. Sometimes you’ll end up skipping a purchase to avoid having something silly jotted down for all eternity.
#3. Track Your Personal Expenses
Give yourself a budget for personal expenses. This number should be based on your income not your need. In other words, see how much money you have left after you deduct your recurring monthly expenses. Use that to buy clothes, shaving cream and other personal needs.
#4. Track Your Food Expenses
Eating out is probably the biggest way most people waste money without realizing it. If you eat breakfast, have a cup of coffee, lunch then dinner, and then times that by 30 days, you’ll see that a huge chunk of your income goes down your esophagus. Be old-fashioned. Take a lunch-box and thermos to work. You’ll eat better and save.
#5. Open a Free Bank Account
Most banks offer some form of free checking. If you are a student or if your employer direct-deposits your paycheck into your checking account, your checking account will cost you nothing. You should also receive free online banking and a free debit card. You will need to order checks. However, checks are expensive, and they can be stolen and forged. Therefore, try to avoid using them.
#6.Track Your Bank Statement
With online banking, you may not receive a paper statement at home. Even so log on and review your statement at least once a month. Make sure you recognize every activity. If not, call your bank or dispute the activity online.
#7. Open a Savings Account
Try to transfer a portion of your income to a savings account each month as an emergency backup. Tie this account to your checking account to act as an overdraft protection. Then funds from your savings account will be automatically deposited into your checking account when you need them.
#8. Track Your Checks
If you are using personal checks, log on to your bank after a few days to make sure the checks were cashed. Look at the check image to verify that the check was not altered on route. I have had checks forged and altered to higher sums and different payees.
#9. Pay Your Bills Online
Sign up to pay your bills online. Make sure each website address is an “https” address, which confirms that it is secure. You can sign up for auto payments and remove the burden of having to go in and make the payments yourself; however, do this only if you have steady income and your bank balance is reliable.
#10. Watch Out for Credit Cards
Most Americans become enslaved by credit cards at some point (and I include myself in that statement). Here’s my article on 7 Credit Card Traps to Watch Out for. Understand also that debt will lock you into a way of life, because you will be unable to quit your job while you need your income to pay off debts.
#11. Don’t Rush to Buy a House
Owning a house is not the American dream. Homeowners are locked into high mortgages and are unlikely to be able to sell their houses in today’s real estate market. This will prevent them from moving into better job markets. There’s time enough for tying yourself down with a mortgage.
#12. Find Your Dream Job
Career counseling is more common today than it was when I grew up. Take advantage of it to find the path that you were meant to walk on this earth. In his best-selling career counseling book, What Color Is Your Parachute, Richard Nelson recommends these 5 Best Career Aptitude Tests to Help You Find the Perfect Job .
#13. Don’t Chase the Money
Though making money is the motivation of going to work, chase your passion and money will take care of itself. Studies show that people who work at what they love are more likely to succeed and innovate in their field. They are also less likely to burn out.
#14. Money and Happiness Don’t Go Together
Daniel Gilbert , professor of psychology at Harvard University, found that happiness and money don’t necessarily go hand in hand. In fact, people who make more money tend to spend it less wisely in an effort to compensate themselves for all the hard work. Making less money but spending it carefully on the things you love will make you a happier person.
#15. Money Won’t Buy You Love
Divorce constitutes the biggest financial blow most people will experience in their lives. Financial experts recommend prenuptial agreements to all couples, both rich and poor. More importantly, psychologists urge young people to take their time choosing their lifelong partners.
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