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Managing your money can seem like an over-whelming task. The problem for many of us is that we become so overwhelmed that we don’t do anything. While pencil and paper, envelopes and coin buckets, spreadsheets and computer programs, they can all be used effectively to manage your money, how you do it is less important that the fact that you do it. I like the Mvelopes system because it’s a computerized method of the system I used to get out of debt. But pick a system that works for you and get to it.
My goal here is to present a good overview of what’s needed. If you can’t do it all at least do more than you were doing, make progress. Then when that’s under control come back and add another chunk. Eventually you’ll have it all working for you.
We’re going to put together two financial documents, an operating statement and a net worth statement. The first step in managing your money is to figure out were you’re at right now. Let’s start with the (-) side of the ledger.
Listing you ongoing expenses can be more difficult than it first seems. To do it completely its best to list the expenses on a yearly basis, so go ahead and write down every dollar you spent within the last twelve months. Can’t quite remember everything? Start with the ongoing monthly expenses then add in daily and weekly expenses like food and transportation. Then focus on non-regular expenses like haircuts, birthday expenses, and vacations. Write down as much as you can. The best way to get your total yearly expenses is to keep track of what you spend for an entire year. Be sure to include taxes. Once you have a yearly total then divide by twelve to get your real monthly expenses.
Certainly listing your income will be more fun than listing your debts. At least hopefully it will be. Be sure and include income from all your sources including your job, gifts, garage sales, and income tax refunds. Once you have a yearly income figure divide it by twelve and compare it to your monthly expenses.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
Comparing your annualized monthly expenses and income will give you an operating statement. You’ll see if your cash is coming or going. This will be a great too in helping find extra money to pay down your debt while making sure your necessities are taken care of.
Just how much debt do you have? If you have steady nerves and a good pencil do yourself a favor and list your debts. For this list don’t put any ongoing bill like utility bills only debts that can be paid off and eliminated. Be sure and include all credit cards, car loans, and home mortgages.
Listing each debt and how much you owe is a good start but not enough. To get the full picture include the interest rate, your current monthly payment, any ongoing fees, like annual credit card fees, and determine how long it will take you to pay them off and the total amount paid. When you see the final number you may experience sticker shock but relax it will only get better.
In order to complete your current financial picture you need to do an inventory of what you own. Include your house’s current value, cars, investments, furniture, clothing, all your bank accounts, and even your cash on hand.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
Total up what you own and compare it with what you owe. This is your net worth. That’s your financial net worth not your worth as a person because, as we know, you are priceless.
Now that you have an operating statement and a net worth statement you have a better idea of where you are and where you’re headed. But let’s consider some other essential financial paperwork.
You’re going to die. And you won’t be able to take your money with you. Only be having a plan for your money and your heirs will you bring your money management to a successful close.
Just because you may be having trouble paying your credit card bills doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay attention to your estate planning. I am by no means an expert in insurance or estate planning matters but I know this, when you properly take care of these matters you will feel a tremendous sense of relief. It will actually free you emotionally to focus more effectively or your day-to-day money matters.
THE WORLD OF INVESTMENTS
Effectively managing your money is the only real way to get ahead financially. That means you will have to invest it with the expectation of getting more money, returns. Your money must make more money. Investing is a calculated risk that pits the amount or potential returns against the risk of losing some or all of the investment. The safest investments pay the least. The highest returns come with the highest risk. Learning how to balance your tolerance for risk with your desire for returns is a personal challenge. Knowing specifically where to invest your money is a great area to receive professional advice. You are always responsible for your financial decisions but the world of investing is so vast that consulting a professional is always a good idea. Take a lesson from the rich, they view investing as a team sport. No one can know it all so getting good advice is critical.
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