Let’s be honest. When it comes to conversations about personal finance and getting ahead, most people just roll their eyes and move on. As individuals, we don’t care about our financial future when we can get instant gratification NOW. If you’ve been reluctant to start taking control of your finances like we were, then here are 5 simple things you can do right now to get started.
1) Keep Track of Your Spending:
If you’re not tracking your daily expenses in a checkbook registry or computer based program, you’re treading in very dangerous waters. With online bank accounts offering real-time account information, many people have stopped worrying about reconciling their ATM and Check purchases in a checkbook registry. Maintaining a check book registry to track your expenses (like my free Excel Based Checkbook Registry), not only helps you catch errors with your bank, but it also helps bring to light your spending habits. You never know what you’ll learn about your spending habits until you start tracking were the money is going.
2) Review Your Credit Reports:
Reviewing your 3 major credit report files (Transunion, Experian, and Equifax) is essential to make sure there are no mistakes on your credit file and to ensure no one has opened an account in your name. For more information on how to receive your free annual credit reports (mandated by US law), check out my article on how to get your free annual credit reports.
3) Set Financial Goals:
No matter what stage of life you’re in, you need to set financial goals and develop a financial plan to achieve them. Whether its saving for a down payment on a new house, paying off your credit card, or setting aside money for your retirement, you’ll never achieve your financial goals if you go through your life waiting for your goals to find you.
4) Set Up A Budget:
Once you get a hold of your spending, you can follow my step by step guide to getting started on an easy budget that captures your monthly living expenses and helps you set additional money aside for achieving your other financial goals.
5) Review Your Monthly Bills:
If you read my article the other day about the secret expense affecting your personal finances, you might remember the part about paying for goods and services we’ll never use. Review your monthly bills (mobile phone, cable, internet, etc.) and looks for features you’re paying for that you don’t use. After reviewing the insurance policy for my wife’s iPhone ($10/Month), we realized that it simply wasn’t worth it to pay so much per month and still have a huge deductible to pay if we needed a new phone. If you can cut back just $80 in utility expenses each month, that’s like getting a $1,000 tax fee bonus each year!