Managing personal finances can be a daunting prospect, but you don’t have to be an accountant or professional finance guru to be the master of your checkbook. Simple planning and budgeting tips can help jumpstart a lifestyle of smart financial planning that will help you avoid bankruptcy, manage expense, avoid installment loans and even build wealth for the future.
The first step to being fiscally savvy and avoiding bankruptcy is identifying all of the outgoing expenses and measuring those expenses against your income. This is the only way to see your entire financial picture and to start eliminating items that could lead to hardship. Start out small; make a list of daily expenses, followed by weekly and then monthly expenses. Create a spreadsheet with this data, or better yet, take advantage of the free online financial tracking tools out there and maintain this list, updating your expenses regularly.
Tracking your expenses will help you identify where your money is being spent and will help you to determine where to eliminate unnecessary expenditures such as an unused gym membership or a daily trip to the local coffee shop. Evaluate your credit card debt and consider steps to help you more easily pay off those balances. Are you paying high interest rates? Contact your creditor and request a lower rate. Are you paying annual fees? Consider transferring your balance to a credit card that has no annual fee. Compare the features of credit cards to ensure you are getting the best deal available.
Review each expense and see where there are real opportunities to save. Even the smallest adjustments can have a big impact on your budget such as lunch out a few days a week, versus bringing lunch from home.