Planning Ahead With Personal Finances

The holidays are over and summer is upon us! it’s time to take hold of your life and get it back on track. Being serious about this now means you won’t be subject to grim news later, especially when it comes to matters pertaining to your personal finances. Reforming how you think about money is the key.

And maybe how you think about money means that you need to start thinking about it: what your relationship to money is, how you might have let expensive habits rule you, and how to work on using willpower to get you out of debt. Once you’ve figured these things out, you’ll be on your way to a successful relationship with your budget.

First, consider the kind of relationship you have to money. Just like a motive is important in solving a whodunit, so is this step vital to solving your financial woes. Any doctor could tell you that identifying a symptom is the first step to establishing a cure. So: do you burn through your paycheck as soon as it arrives, rushing off to get the latest fashion or the just-released game or the updated electronic device?

Or are you a hoarder, too scared to part with a nickel more than you have to? You may wonder, what’s wrong with that? At least my spending isn’t out of control. But fear, when it comes to financial matters, can be just as destructive as ignorance. Either way, you’re letting the money dictate to you instead of vice-versa.

Once you’ve thought about taking emotion out of your relationship with money, turn your attention to the practical. Take pen and paper and a cold hard look at your monthly expenditures. What is your greatest extravagance? New shoes, dining out, expensive coffee drinks, video games? Be honest. Check your debit and credit card statements. Note not only where, but when, you’re prone to spend the most money.

Now challenge yourself to drop one of those pricey habits for the New Year. That’s not depriving yourself of every pleasure; just one. And the boost to your bank balance will be immediately obvious. Frequent trips to the espresso shop can average out to five dollars a day, which adds up to over one hundred dollars a month. That’s on something you could make at home, and probably better.

Finally, take that new savings and start paying down those debts you acquired last year, most especially for the holidays. This reduces the principal, and as that balance goes down, so too does the interest you owe. And interest is the “silent killer” of the budget. Even if you bought that shirt for 50% off, it doesn’t turn out to be such a bargain sitting on a store card that charges 23% for unpaid balances.

It’s not as hard as you imagine, getting control of your personal finances. All it takes is re-evaluating your relationship to money – and adjusting your thinking accordingly. From that practical vein you can proceed to cutting out an extravagance and funneling that extra cash into paying down your debt.