Becoming responsible with your money doesn’t happen overnight. Learn how to adopt healthy financial habits to be the boss of your finances.
As you may have figured out by now, managing money is like running a marathon. You wouldn’t expect to throw on your tennis shoes, head out the door and be able to run a 26.2 mile marathon so you shouldn’t expect to become financially fit overnight either. It takes training and practice to become financially responsible and build healthy habits when it comes to managing your money.
Follow these tips to get your finances in check:
Tip #1: Avoid Overindulging
Overindulging on food and spending can feel great in the moment and give you a short-term feeling of satisfaction. Unfortunately, in the long run, neither will help you reach your financial goals. Just like it’s difficult to see lasting physical results unless you combine a fitness plan and healthy diet, you may not see financial results without adjusting both your spending and savings habits.
The first step is to establish a foundation. Just as “calories in, calories out”—the idea that you must consume fewer calories than you burn in order to lose weight—is the cornerstone of any effective diet, consider making “money in, money out” as your financial mantra. When you take home more money than you spend in a month, your savings account has a chance to grow. Even if you feel compelled to spend that extra disposable income, it’s important to fight the urge and instead set that extra money aside in your savings. To control impulse spending, wait to buy things. If you think you need something, sleep on it. You may find a better price if you do your research, or you may decide you don’t need that item after all.
Begin by looking at your current spending trends. Download your expenses for the past two months from online banking into a spreadsheet and then label each expense with a category (groceries, utilities, entertainment, eating out, Christmas, birthdays, cell phones, etc.). Once you’ve categorized each expense, sort the worksheet by the category column and then add up the expenses for each category. Are you surprised by how much you spent on eating out, going to the gym, buying groceries, or on entertainment? By paying attention to details and closely monitoring your personal finances, you might notice certain spending patterns or unnecessary expenses that you can cut out. Maybe it’s a recurring fee on your credit card for a gym you’ve stopped using or those morning coffee runs accumulating to a hefty price tag.
Doing this every few months will help you keep tabs on how and why you’re spending.
Tip #2: Set Realistic Financial Goals
In the same way that you can’t expect to see significant results after working out and eating right for just a couple weeks, it’s also not realistic to expect results if you only save money for a short time before returning to your old habits. Getting financially fit takes discipline—and it’s not always easy. But in order to see real results, you will need to stick to your new and improved habits.
One of your healthy habits should include setting a budget. You may not want a budget, but to really see your money grow, you need to set up a budget and follow the “money in, money out” financial mantra. If you take more money in than you are putting out, then your savings is bound to grow.
Be realistic when you’re setting up a budget. For instance, if you know that you’re a person that likes to eat out several times a week and it’s something that you’re not willing to negotiate on, make sure that you allocate money for eating out in your budget. Just know that by doing so it may take you longer to achieve some of your long-term goals like paying off your mortgage, getting out of credit card debt, or saving up for that new car. Read this article for more information on how to create a budget.
Tip #3: Automate What’s Important
It’s certainly easy to notice that we live in a digital world and abide by reoccurring calendar entries that remind us to do everything from brushing our teeth to reminders for birthdays, doctors’ appointments, and much more. Consider automating what’s most important to you in relation to your financial goals. Take the responsibility of savings off your shoulders and just set it up to happen automatically. Automating basic tasks like paying reoccurring bills or transferring money from your checking account into your savings account are great ways to invest in your future.
With online banking, you can set up reoccurring monthly bills in BillPay to be automatically paid on the same day each month. Automating payments is a game changer because you don’t have to think about it any longer and possibly forget about paying your bills. Fulfilling your monthly car or house payments on time will positively impact your credit score, which opens you up to more financial opportunities.
Look into other automated tools like our RollUp Savings account which can easily build up your savings without having to think twice. In addition, consider scheduling Automatic Transfers which let you regularly transfer money to your savings account from another eligible account such as your checking account.
Like we said before, managing your money is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t’ be afraid to ask for help. Whether that is asking for lower interest rates, forgiveness on making one late payment, or to lower you cable or internet bill. Don’t be afraid to take control of your finances and develop a financially fit mindset.