In today's economy more people than ever are trying to budget, get out of debt, and learn to manage their finances.
Let's look at a few principles that can get you on the road to financial stability. A budget is an unpopular word in most people's mind and for good reason. It implies sacrifice, going without, and generally doesn't sound like much fun.Instead let's look at some principles that aren't hard to implement but will reap excellent rewards.
Pay yourself first
I am sure that you might have heard this before, maybe you have but you aren't putting it into practice. Or maybe the sound of paying yourself first seems counterintuitive when you are facing a mountain of credit card debt. It's not sexy, but this can be one of the building blocks to financial stability. If you haven't already done it, go to your bank and open up a savings account, preferably one that isn't attached to your ATM card but can only be accessed at the bank or through your branches on-line banking feature. Pick an amount of money that you can reasonably save every pay check and set up an automatic transfer to your savings account. Even if it is only a meagre amount it will soon add up. Everyone can cut down on a few extras to implement this. Then don't touch it! You probably won't even notice that it is gone, and after awhile you will realize that you have a nice little nest egg that you painlessly acquired. This serves many purposes; it will give you a safety net if you should run into an unexpected expense in the future and prevent having to get another loan from Uncle Larry, therefore putting you into even more debt. It also looks excellent to the bank and your creditors. It shows them that you can save and manage your money should you need a loan or line of credit in the future, giving you some leverage. So start saving a little of your money! There is a scripture verse from the proverbs that says "In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has" Good advice to live by.
Attack the loan with the most interest
High interest is a killer. I once had a bad debt with a store credit company. The loan was for $2000 and I missed a few payments. The company jacked up my interest rate to a whopping 29%!! The minimum monthly payment was $168 of which $140 was interest and fees. I was fortunate enough to pay it off with a windfall and a personal loan from a family member. It then freed up more money to pay off other loans and creditors. Before this I inquired with a professional who told me to pay the minimum balance on all other debts and put every dollar I could into paying off the high interest debt. It may seem overwhelming, but if you keep it up over time you will have one loan completely paid and you can focus on the next largest one.
The Envelope Budget
One old budgeting trick that works for many people is the envelope budget. When you get paid immediately divide up the money into envelopes for all of your expenses, including your entertainment. You can also open multiple bank accounts at your branch and effectively use this method. These are some basic budgeting principles that are a good start for effective money management.