You can say what you want about external factors but much of your financial situation is one brought on by yourself. Sure, there are those unexpected moments when you have to burn through savings (such as a major car incident) but the point of personal finance is to get you set up with proper money management regardless of how much you bring home.
The main elements of personal finance
PF comes down to just a few small actions to make the biggest difference in money management:
- Understanding where your money comes and goes
- Developing a routine for your savings
- Creating a safety net through an emergency fund
- Expanding your options and growing your wealth
Many people live outside their means which drives them to pitfalls and financial ruin. The best action one can take is to embrace a frugal lifestyle. No, you’re not being cheap and you’re not eating lentils every night – frugality is a way of life which trains your mind into understanding the smart, logical choices for your money.
Acknowledge what you’re doing wrong
It’s time to “man up” to how you’re spending your income:
- Do you continually upgrade gadgets that don’t truly need upgrading?
- Do you splurge on dining out when you could stay in and cook?
- Are you failing to maintain your housing, transportation, and health?
These are but a few examples that many people let slip which eventually starts a snowball effect on their debt. Being unprepared for life’s curve-balls is what will drive you off the cliff of financial stability.
The only way you can truly fix your money mistakes is by knowing what’s causing them.
Take a cold, hard look at your finances and you’ll quickly realize what needs to be done; it’ll be an uphill battle but clamoring out of debt, setting a workable budget, and living within your means will give you a stress-free lifestyle that has no limits.
Get things in motion
One great way to get things moving is to undertand where you currently stand financially. This can be done by creating a basic budget or by using a resource like MyMoneyCheckup.org; a website and tool created in part by the Social Security Administration’s Financial Literacy Research Consortium (that’s a mouthful), funding from Ohio State University, and the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (which has been active since 1951 offering guidance on credit and debt reduction).
The tool itself is about as simple as you can get but packs a punch when it comes to personal finance education.
The tool will take you through a questionnaire in the main categories of money (budgeting, borrowing, savings, housing, retirement, and more). When you work through this tool and run the report, you’ll see the areas which need improvement; these areas are marked by green (good), yellow (okay), and red (bad).
- Come to terms with your ability to manage your money
- Understand where your money is going by using the MyMoneyCheckup tool
- Use the financial calculator (on the site) to reconfigure your finances
- Begin the process of rebuilding your financial education with the included resources
A simple 5 – 10 minute process, using the tool (which is also now available in Spanish) will give you the jump-start on “owning” your mistakes. It’s unfortunate that personal finance isn’t a skill most taught throughout school but one which you discover but there’s no reason to wait any longer – get started right this moment and you’ll never again need to be on the lower end of your finances.
You can find this helpful financial tool and resources over at MyMoneyCheckup.org.
Image credit: Tax Credits