You don’t want to document every last dime. That sounds boring. But you still need to budget and save. How can you realistically maintain your money? Here are a few tips.
1. Write down your real income. Don’t just count on your $15 an hour for your take home pay. Take into consideration the deductions and money taken out for other things you pay for like, Social Security, and taxes. This is important because if you don’t understand how much you are really taking home each week you won’t be able to manage your money in any shape or form.
2. Don’t be afraid of coupons and clearance racks. One of the best ways to manage your money is by spending it wisely. Take advantage of coupons that come in the mail, and instead of heading to the most expensive item in the store why not focus on the clearance rack first? There are tons of great deals out there if you just look for them.
3. Take a look at your credit cards. Credit card companies have a tendency to overcharge virtually on anything they can get away it. Do yourself (and your credit) a favor by looking at every monthly statement you receive and making sure everything checks out. Hidden fees and unfair charges are common place with credit cards so avoid this by being vigilant with your statements.
4. Learn to save. Managing money without a budget may be close to impossible, especially if you want to save money. In fact, saving money should be as important as managing it. This is because you need savings for emergency funds, retirement, and investment. All of this involves learning how to save. You don’t want to save too little because you can end up delaying your own retirement, or too much and short change yourself in paying off debt.
5. Analyze where you spend your money. One of the biggest ways to manage your money without a strict budget is to look where you are spending your money. That means if you are spending $20 a day you can add that up for a whopping amount of money at the end of the year. If this $20 is spent on something that isn’t necessary than you need to make a change.
6. Set specific financial goals. Figure out what you would like to save, how much you want in retirement by a certain age, and when you want your credit cards paid off by. The biggest idea is get organized with what your goals are and follow a plan to get you there.
7. Be persistent. Just because you didn’t save as much as you would have liked to in a month don’t get discouraged. A plan (or budget) is just a blueprint for what you would like to do financially, and view it as such. Don’t get down on yourself if you can’t meet your monthly goal, just save where you can.
8. Diversify your money. Don’t just keep you money in one spot. In fact, this is one of the first things you should do when you change the way your money is spent. Look into savings accounts, money marketing accounts, and money market mutual funds.