How To Make a Financial To-Do List
As tedious as it might be, making yourself a separate list devoted to your finances is a good way to get things moving along and see that you don’t end up with serious financial issues down the line. Having two lists will help you divide your efforts and concentrate on the matters that really need handling, like doing your taxes and paying down any credit card debt you might have. Your list should include anything financial problem or concern that is important to you, from improving your income and listing your general expenses to financial goals you’ve set for yourself.
Below are some of the things that you can and should think about putting on your new financial to-do list.
Monitor Your Spending Habits and Keep Your Receipts
Do you constantly see your bank account balances draining rather than rising? It might be because you’re using up your hard earned money without thinking about how much you’re actually spending or what you’re spending it on. If this is the case, it’s a good idea to hang onto your receipts. This way, you’ll be able to see exactly what you’ve been buying on a daily basis. You might end up shocked when you collect all the receipts you have from the cafe on the corner. It can be quite jarring to see just how much your daily coffee is actually costing you when you’re not proactive enough to brew it at home. Once you start monitoring all your other expenses it will all the more easy to find ways to cut back and start saving the money you’re no longer spending on unnecessary things.
Make Yourself a Realistic Budget
Once you’ve begun to monitor your expenses, the next step is to actively start figuring out what you do need to spend money on and eliminate the things that you don’t. Creating a solid and realistic budget is a good way to split parts of your income into sections and prioritize the most important financial issues. You can then give yourself a spending limit and try to stick with it to the best of your ability.
Want to know how to Maintain an Effective Budget? Read this.
Calculate Your Net Worth
This section is typically reserved for people that have assets to consider, such as a house, vehicle, or another piece of property. If you’re currently rent an apartment or don’t own any assets, keep this part of your to-do list blank and fill it in when you do. To calculate your net worth, you can add up the estimated value of all your assets, then all of your liabilities, meaning the outstanding balances of all your debts. Once you have both totals, subtract the total balance of your debts from the total value of your assets and bingo, you have your net worth.
Request a Copy of Your Credit Report and Your Credit Score
In the United States, there are three main credit bureaus where, once per year, you can request a free copy of your credit report: TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. While your credit score will not be featured as part of your credit report, you can also get a copy of it for a small extra fee.
For more information about your Credit Report, click here.
Try to Reduce Your Spending by 10%
Ideally, you want to cut as much as possible out of your budget and put it away for safekeeping. However, as this is not always a realistic option, start with reducing your spending by 10% or more if you can. This is a great way to force yourself to maintain a successful budget while even reaching your financial goals a little faster.
Set Up a Rainy-Day Fund for Emergencies
Opening an extra savings account and using it as a rainy-day fund for emergencies is one of the simplest, but easiest ways to get ahead. Making yourself a safety cushion, just in case anything should happen that is out of your control can save you a lot of trouble down the line. For situations like a loss of employment, injury, or illness that prevents you from working for a period of time, or even in the event of car or house troubles, you’ll be relieved to know you have emergency money on hand to help deal with it.
Open a Savings Account
While your rainy-day fund is a type of savings account, it’s also a good idea to open a second savings account where you can store a portion of your income on a regular basis. Unlike the emergency account, you should try and keep this one as untouched as possible, thereby saving as much as you can for something that’s really important to you, like a good vacation, your own home or retirement.
Trying to save up for a Down Payment on a house? Check out this other article.
Keep an Eye Out for Deals
Always be on the lookout for deals, especially when it comes to expenses like insurance, vacations, vehicles, tires, and even gas.
Watch Out For High-Interest Rates
Something that a lot of people don’t take into consideration, especially when applying for credit cards, are the interest rates that come with them. Rewards cards, in particular, can come with even higher interest rates than usual. So, if you plan on keeping your high-interest credit cards, it’s best to make sure that you’re paying off your monthly balance in full and on time every single month. If not, you will only be charged more and more in interest.
For more information on Revolving Debt, click here.
Ask Your Bank About Retirement Accounts
In the United States, there are many different types of retirement and pension plans to be considered when writing your financial to-do list, such as a simple IRA or a 401(K), which are typically granted by an employer after certain qualifications are met. Talk to a financial advisor about how you can apply for one of these accounts.
Be Patient and Don’t Give Up
Creating and sticking to a to-do list is always difficult, even more so when it’s financial in nature and you already have countless, day to day, issues to deal with. However, as time goes on, you’ll find it easier and easier to maintain. Slowly you’ll be able to check things off and once it’s all crossed off, you’ll find yourself that much closer to the healthy financial future you want.