Resources from BALANCE and Brass Magazine
Visit BALANCE's Personal Finance Center for information on getting onto the path towards smart money management. Also, the Brass Magazine has other great articles to help put your finances in the right direction.
Five Practical Ways to Reach Personal Finance Goals
Calculate Your Net Worth
Calculating your net worth, including all assets and liabilities, will help assess your financial state and what it will realistically take to achieve your personal finance goals. With a firm baseline, you’ll be able to understand and prioritize your current budget and spending habits (and where you might need to cut
back and save more).
Break Down Spending Habits
Do you have a monthly budget (or not)? Maybe you have an idea of what you spend each month but it’s not documented. Guessing your expenses is usually inaccurate as we often forget certain purchases (including the ones we wish we didn’t make). Rather than “guestimate” how much you open up your wallet, create a spreadsheet with categories like housing, entertainment, and other budget areas, and try to fill in each expense every day. That will give you a real sense of your spending habits and a good reality check.
Evaluate Your Current Bills
Once you know where exactly your money is going, you can figure out where to trim the fat. For instance, do you really need a landline AND A cell phone—will a mobile phone suffice? Can you cut back on your electric bill each month by being more mindful of leaving electronics on? Are you buying lunch every day at work instead of making it sometimes? All of these costs add up and you could pocket big savings annually by taking a tough look at your habits. It might not be fun to cut back but when the savings start adding up, you’ll be thankful.
Automate Your Savings
Make it easy to save your money by automating the process of putting away money each paycheck or other intervals that work with your budgeting schedule. Start by knowing what you want to save over the year and calculate what it will take each month. Voila! The work is done for you—sit back and watch the savings grow each month. Being goal oriented about the process helps.
Pay Down Credit Cards
Speaking of saving money, now is the time to get the debt off your credit cards or pay them down, if you can handle it financially. Think of it another way: It might be more advantageous to have a zero balance on a credit card than to pay interest for the next six months—do the math. (Don’t forget to get your free credit report and make sure there are no inaccuracies from the prior year.)