Though most of us are aware of the importance of saving, investing, and building a safe financial future for ourselves, the truth is that most of us live paycheck-to-paycheck. The feeling of hoping for that paycheck to stretch up until the end of the month is often draining and extremely stressful, so why not take a different approach to how we manage our finances? Here’s the thing, being financially smart is not only for people who earn thousands every month, but it can also be done by every single one of us. Read on to find out how.
1. Yearly Question - What Is The Budget I Want To Focus On This Year?
Every year, it’s essential to choose a specific date to sit down and ask yourself several financial questions that should set out your goals very clearly for the year. January is usually the best month to do so since it usually coincides with the start of the year’s IRS tax. Sit down with a notebook and answer the question: what kind of budget will I work with this year? Do your best to be as accurate as possible, thinking about how much you need for each expenditure that year to set a budget.
2. Yearly Question - What Long-Term Financial Goals Do I Have This Year?
As scary as it sounds, it’s extremely important to set a financial long-term goal for the year. But be careful, this goal should be realistic and should take your expenditures and your expected income into consideration. Start by listing your highest yearly expenses, and if that’s too overwhelming, start with listing your quarterly expenses. These include taxes, insurance premiums, retirement, and/or college fund payments. It is crucial to ensure that you have money for these unavoidable expenses.
3. Yearly Question - How Can I Save This Year, What Is My Target, And What Might Stop Me From Achieving It?
Don’t be afraid of making lists; they are your friends, and they will not only hold you accountable throughout the year but will also motivate you to keep working towards your target. Make a list of how you can save money and how much you want to save. Then, think about some of the financial mistakes you might have made in the past and how you can avoid making them again. Identify some of your biggest spending triggers, and try to set more positive spending habits throughout the year.
4. Monthly Question - Did I Put Money Aside For My Expenses And For My Savings?
At the start of every month, it’s crucial to take a look at the previous month. See what you’ve spent and what you might have overspent. For instance, is there any money left from last month? If the answer is yes, then this money should be put into your savings account right away. Have a target every month for the amount of money you would like to send to your savings account, and make sure to be loyal to it.
5. Monthly Question - Am I Still Keeping My Yearly Goals In Mind?
Nowadays, many of us manage to talk ourselves into a luxury that we don’t really need by convincing ourselves that “we deserve it”. Of course, we deserve it, but can we afford it? Sometimes, it’s much more financially smarter to pass on that weekend trip or to that new fancy outfit, for the exchange of some peace of mind at the end of the year. Check-in with yourself on a monthly basis by asking if the choices you’re making are still true to your long-term goals.
6. Weekly Question - How Much Did I Spend This Week? Have I Accounted For Everything I Need?
Lastly, check on yourself on a weekly basis too. In fact, setting a weekly date for yourself to sit on your spending is the best way to stay on track. While keeping all of your receipts and accounting for every dollar you spend on a long-term basis is almost impossible, it is worth doing it for a couple of weeks so you can understand your spending pattern. Make sure that you are budgeting enough to account for all of your weekly expenses, while still keeping money on the side for the monthly transfer to your savings account. Although all of this might sound overwhelming at first, once you get the hang of it you’ll never want to go back to being financially unaware and unstable again!