Money is a necessary evil, which means it also becomes necessary to spend time managing it. That activity is arguably even more evil, don’t you think?
People don’t like to talk about money, and when it comes to creating (and sticking to) a budget, balancing your checkbook, or tracking spending, well, no one wants to do it.
You don’t need to live in a cardboard box, subsisting on ramen noodles three times a day. Nor do you need to spend every waking minute on money matters.
In fact, there are many budgeting tools you can master in one hour or less.
Make Sure Your Finances Are Centralized
Although the advent of the Internet has made bill-paying easier, each site, be it a utility or a credit card, has its own way of doing things.
If you do your banking, utility payments, and credit card payments all online, then you probably have a cheat sheet handy with all of your user names, passwords, and other bits of info you need in order to navigate any and all of the different platforms.
Try to bring everything together in one site, and consolidate things. Many banks, for instance, offer an online bill paying service right on their website, so it becomes one-stop bill paying.
Get an app for your smart phone and tablet, and take your personal finances out on the road.
Although it may initially sound counter-intuitive (“Wait, working on finances away from home sounds like even more work!”), if your budget is there at your fingertips, you can have a better idea of what your available balances are, and update them right on the spot, as opposed to trying to do them later, when you’re trying to piece together what you bought, and when.
By investing a little up-front time using a mobile app, you save time later at home because the job is already done.
Let Technology Be Your Assistant
The best personal finance tools let you set up alerts to remind you about things like a bill’s due date, or informing you that there’s a good deal on credit card rates out there.
Why spend time keeping track of countless due dates when your software can ping you with a text message or e-mail? Never pay another bill late, or alternately, never forget that an auto-payment is being taken out of your checking account. That latter one can be a real killer, incidentally.
There’s nothing worse than thinking you have a certain amount of available funds, only to forget that you have three automatic payments slated to be deducted overnight. And when that happens, say “hello” to Mister Overdraft Fees.
Sometimes, the whole task of figuring out your budget and spending habits gets overly complicated, with a corresponding rise in the frustration level.
Well, if a picture is worth a thousand words, then a few nice graphs are worth their weight in gold in helping you grasp your financial picture without wading through so much gobbledygook.
With graphs, you can chart your spending trends and make corrections as needed, ultimately saving you bucks as you save time by having the information presented in a simple, straight-forward manner.
Follow these four tips, and get yourself off to a good start.
About the author: John Terra has been a freelance writer since 1985. He feels that Mister Overdraft Fee is a big jackass.
Photo Credit: AMagill