9 Tips to Manage Your Money

I obsess over my money. Not in a constantly-craving-it-and-letting-it-rule-my-life sort of way, but just in that I always want to be sure that I have enough money to pay my bills. Bills always come first.
But how can I get that done when I am now on a far more restrictive budget? When, if my unemployment check ever comes through, I will only be earning 25% of what I was earning when I was employed?
Here’s a couple tips:

  1. Have More than One Bank Account
    Of course I have just one bank (well, Credit Union because they’re no where near as evil, if they possess any evil at all), but I have several accounts within my bank. Through this, I divvy up what is mine to spend, and what goes towards bills. For example, if I know that I have $150 for my phone, $200 for electric, $70 for car insurance, and $500 for rent needing to come out, I make sure that amount of money makes it into savings account #1 – I even make individual transfers of the money into that account for each individual bill, so that my statement has a record of it (in case I forget what it is I have done). Then I put my 15% into savings account #2 and general costs into savings account #3 – such as gas, groceries and household items. Whatever is left in checking is free for me to spend!
  2. Know your potential bills at the end of the month.
    By knowing potentially that you’ve got to pay your phone bill, internet, rent, electric, garbage, you can figure out how much you will need to be paying out at the end of the month. A good tip to making sure you have that amount of money stashed away is to add all these bills up, divide the sum by 7 (to know your daily cost), and when you get paid, multiply by the amount of days in that paycheck, and put that amount away.
    For example:
    Rent = $500
    Phone = $150
    Insurance = $70
    Electric = $200
    Garbage = $30
    Internet =$90
    Total = $1040
    For March, there are 31 days. 1040/31 = 33.55/day.If I get paid weekly, then that’s $33.55 x 7 = $234.85
    It goes straight into my savings account for bills.
  3. Bill Money Does Not Exist!
    The biggest problem I have is knowing that it’s there. When it is in a separate account, I tend to forget it. I make sure that I train myself to know that that money is not available, it is out of reach, and I am not allowed to access it until I have that email (be good for the environment and go paperless!) stating how much I owe in my Inbox. Clicking the open button is the password to get into my savings account, and it changes as soon as that bill is paid!
  4. Down Size
    Consider what is needed vs what is a treat. Don’t get me wrong. I love treating myself, and I’ve been known to do it often. But when I don’t know what my next paycheck will be, or if I will have a job in a month, then I really have to buckle down and question where my money goes.One thing that gets neglected in this calculation is gas. Of course everyone knows that they need gas to get around in their cars (unless one of the very fortunate and wise folks that have an electric car, or some other alternatively functioning vehicle), but how often is gas considered when you decide to drive down to your friend’s house, just a mile down the way? Or if you forgot something at the grocery store, so you’ve got to go back and get it?
    Driving efficiently can save you a lot of money, especially with gas prices as high as they are.
    When you’re at the grocery store, do you need to buy boxed mac and cheese, or is it cheaper to buy the ingredients that will make more and cost less? Buying whole foods is not only a healthier way of shopping, but in the long run can save you money. Avoiding junk food, or foods that will only fuel your system for half an hour can really make a dent in the amount that goes into your cart and comes out of your wallet.
    Does your phone need to cost you so much? Can you live without being on it all the time? Finding a way to downgrade your plan can save a few bucks as well. If you’re looking for a job, of course you need your phone, but living in the age where it is imperative that we have all our information and contacts at the tips of our fingertips has given way for useless spending. In fact, so have the games that can be installed in them as well!
  5. Eat Healthier!
    I mentioned this earlier, but it is worth mentioning again. It is possible to eat well under a tight budget, and it is also possible to tighten the budget belt buckle in the process too. Sticking to the foods that run along the outside of the the grocery store can prevent purchasing the insta-foods.
    Insta and processed foods are appealing with their swift prep times and easiness to make, but if our bodies are able to process them at all, they generally generate little energy, and can trick your body into thinking it’s still hungry when it’s really full, causing us to want to eat more. In some cases, the chemicals used in these foods can cause addiction, making the consumer want and need more and more. More often than not, they are white-flour or white-rice products, which offer no useful carbs that will get the consumer to the next meal comfortably. The body will process it, cause an insulin spike, and the consumer will crash, feeling sluggish, tired, and hungry.
    Eating real, whole foods is a way to make sure that your food goes longer, that it fuels the body longer.By buying in the bulk sections of grocery stores, you can get a better deal and get only what you think you might need. Most of these foods are dried beans, lentils, rice, cereals, flours, and so on, and their organic prices can be competitive to their already boxed, non-organic counterpart. These dried goods can be put into jars, and placed in the cupboard and stored for long periods of time, without the risks that accompany the BPA found in most canned foods.
    Looking at ingredients to compile a meal opposed to ready-made dishes gives you more freedom in what you make, and allows you to make larger batches of things, and freeze them for a later time when perhaps you don’t have as much money to spend on groceries.
  6. Pay More On Your Credit Cards
    I’m just going to come out and say this: Credit Cards are the Devil! That being said, I have two myself, and I have definitely sat on more debt than I can manage in my lifetime. The best advices I can offer is this:
    Pay more than your minimum payment on your credit cards.
    This will reduce the interest that sneaks up and piles on, and will help your credit score.If you haven’t got a credit card – don’t get one!But in all seriousness, be sure that when you get yourself a credit card, that you never buy something more expensive than you can pay off comfortably with one paycheck, and pay it off before the payment is due. This will make you look like a wonder kid in the Credit Gods’ eyes.
  7. Emergency Fund
    If you have your health insurance, renter’s insurance, car insurance, life insurance, pet insurance and all the rest, you should be fine. However, not all of us are that prepared. One recommendation that gets tossed around a lot is to build yourself up a savings that can prepare you for three months. This is in case you are injured and can’t work, you’ve covered your bases. If you get fired or laid off, you’ve covered your basis. If you find you a family member is sick and you need to look after them full time, you’ve covered your bases.The short of is really is that you never know what is going to happen, and it’s best to be prepared.
  8. Be A Good Person
    Helping your friends, family, and community is paying it forward. If you’re there to help your people out, and your community out, they’re going to be there to help you in a time of need. This may not be a money thing so much as a resource thing. Folks are always happy to help their neighbor out, especially if their neighbor is a swell guy or gal (and in distress!).
    Help your cousin with that massive chunk of land clear some of it, and in return maybe he’ll give you some wood for the winter. Help get Mrs. White’s cat out of a tree, and she could surprise you with a pot of soup or delicious cookies.Dinner with friends is another way of saving a little bit of money, especially if you carpool. Having a group of friends pot-luck regularly means you don’t have to cook so much, and you still get to be social, thus negating the craving to go out (which can get expensive).
  9. Keep Track of Your Finances
    As you spend, keep a little book that keeps a tally on what you’ve spent and how much is left in your bank account. You’d be surprise how much this helps you become aware and conscious of how you spend your money.

Please feel free to share your own tips on saving money and being a wiser spender, especially on a tight budget.
Here are some helpful links:
http://www.bankrate.com/brm/news/financial-literacy/12-steps-home.asp
http://money.msn.com/debt-management/c_galleryregular.aspx?cp-documentid=253046124
http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/my-money/2013/10/03/6-must-follow-money-tips-for-college-students
http://financialaid.ucdavis.edu/undergraduate/students/mymoney.html

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