Yay, you’re finally earning your own money! It’s all fun and games until you realize that managing your own finances is no walk in the park. Payday is always fun and exciting, but weeks or sometimes just days later, you find yourself wondering where the heck your money went. It’s time to get a grip, before you get yourself stuck in a cycle of living from paycheck to paycheck, with financial stability looking less and less a possibility. After all, it’s not just about earning your own money, but more about handling it properly. Here are some ways to help you take control of your finances:
Read up and learn
You may have stopped going to school, but the learning must continue, especially for a topic as complicated and abstract like finances. Scour the bookstore for a self-help book on managing money and take advantage of the many materials and courses available online for free. Some key phrases to Google: “tips for budgeting,” “investing in mutual funds,” and “what is health insurance for.”
It’s easier to put a financial roadmap into place if you know exactly what it is you want to accomplish. Visualize your goals and put them into writing. Want to buy a car? Looking to replace your cumbersome laptop with a new one? Eager to travel solo for the first time? Knowing what you want will help you focus, especially when the temptation to spend arises.
The only way you can understand your spending habit is to list down where your money goes. Even before payday comes, figure out how much you can allocate for your savings and take note of the bills that need to be paid. The most advisable formula is “income less savings is equal to expenses” – meaning, you prioritize your savings above all the other things you need to spend on, so you adjust your expenses according to what’s left after you’ve saved.
Don’t get into credit card debt.
Credit cards are quite easy to acquire these days, and it is definitely tempting to use it for “wants” while convincing yourself that you will pay for it come pay day. Stop right there and repeat this phrase over and over: “Live within your means.” Don’t go spending money you don’t even have yet, and especially not on things that you can actually do without. Not to say it’s entirely bad to own a credit card; just make sure you use it for emergencies, and that cute purse you saw at the mall sure doesn’t fall into that category.