12 Helpful Money Management Tips
By David Kassler
1. Set Goals and Have a Plan for Your Money
The term "financial planning" is used to describe when someone makes a plan for their money. This means that they have set goals and have a well defined strategy to reach those goals. Such goals could include setting aside an amount of money for a specific expense later on or planning ahead by saving money until such a time as you might need it (like when you are out of college and searching for a job). Write down your goals to help you make them a reality.
2. Organization is Key
Staying organized is one of the best things you can do to manage your money. Organization can help you keep track of how you are spending your money and make sure that you don't lose important documents, like bills or taxes. Another part of being organized is keeping records of your money usage. This can help you track patterns and cut down on waste.
3. Protect Your Personal Information
Your personal information is incredibly important and should stay private. When someone has your personal information (social security number, credit card number, bank account number, etc.) they can use it to steal your identity and take your money. Ways to protect yourself are to shred any piece of paper with your personal information on it. Also shred your ATM and credit card receipts after your have balanced your checkbook and paid. Don't give anyone your personal information, over the web or in person. Go over your credit card statements and look for any inconsistencies. This might be an indication of fraud and you should report it.
4. Resist Peer Presure
Peer pressure is dangerous and can be destructive to your wallet. Often, your friends will want you to go to a party or dinner with them. The important thing to remember is to keep track of your money and know what you can't afford. If your friends want you to go to a museum with them but it costs too much money, you must be able to say that you don't have the money. There are many things you can do with friends that don't require a lot of money, for instance go to the beach or see a movie.
5. Separate "Needs" from "Wants"
This is where most people go wrong. They get caught up in the sensation of wanting something and don't realize that it is more money than they can afford to spend. To help stop this from happening, separate your expenses into needs and wants. Some examples of needs would be food, shelter, and a cell phone. Some examples of wants are the new game console, designer clothes, and lavish vacations. You should take care of your needs first and then, if you have money left over, you can satisfy some of your wants.
6. Take Advantage of Discounts
As a college student, you will be offered many discounts on a wide variety of things. It would be foolish to pass up on these discounts as they are a great way to save money and expend less. Even if you are not a college student, stores will often offer discounts and sales that you can take part in.
7. Track Your Expenses
When you keep track of your expenses, it prevents you from forgetting information and losing track of how much you are spending. Keep a record and write down each expense so that you don't pay more than you have to.
8. Create a Budget
Budgets are one of the best ways to manage your money. In a budget, you can keep track of your income and plan for your wants and needs. A budget helps you stay on track and makes sure that you don't spend more money than you have. With a budget, you can keep track of the past and plan for the future.
9. Build a Good Credit History
Building a good credit history may not help you right now, but you might need it in the future. To build a good credit history you must pay bills and payments on time, pay loans first, apply only for the needed credit, and not bounce checks. Having a good credit history can help you get lower interest rates in the future and are very helpful when applying for a loan to buy a major expense (such as a car or house).
10. Mange you Credit Card
Credit cards are very important to managing your money and if you do decide to use one, than you must keep in mind these tips. First off is to keep track of your credit card expenses. This involves making sure you have enough money at the end of the month to pay the bills and not charging so much onto your credit card that you exceed the amount of money that you have and go into the red zone. Don't keep multiple credit card because it is easy to lose track of what got charged to which card and that is how money is wasted. Build a good credit history by paying all of your bills on time or even early so you are not charged a late fee. Also, try to find a credit card with a low interest rate and no annual fee.
11. If You are in Debt Trouble, Get Help
Debt is one of the worst things in regards to managing money and, if not treated soon, can quickly spiral out of control. The minute you think you are in debt or don't know how much you owe, go seek help from someone like a financial aid officer, resident advisor, or your parents. Avoid debt as much as possible by paying on time or ahead of time and not exceeding your budget. The important thing to remember is to seek help as soon as possible and to talk to someone. You are not alone!
12. Get into the Savings Habit
The best thing you can do is to save your money. Money can be saved in a variety of ways, from cutting back on frivolous expenses to setting aside a portion of your paycheck in a savings account. It is often hard for people to save money because they desire instant gratification. However, if you are able to save your money now, than you can afford much greater expenses later on down the road. Saving money can also help you prepare for the unexpected, such as the loss of a job or destruction of property. If you can get into the habit of saving money now, then it will definitely benefit you later.