There are a number of ways that people can use to manage money to stay out of debt and even establish savings over time.
Establish a Budget
The first, and maybe the most important step, is to set a budget for yourself and stick by it. Take a look at your household income and outgo. Set the budget up to accommodate your payday schedule. In other words, if you get paid once a month, then you have to budget accordingly so that you won’t run out of money before the end of the month. If you get paid every two weeks, or every week, figure out which of your bills have to be paid on each payday. It is absolutely essential to set some money aside for emergencies. Even if it is only $20 per payday, having some cushion will keep you from having to borrow money when something unforeseen occurs. There are all kinds of budget sheets available to help you figure things out and many of them are free on the Internet. However, it is not hard to make your own. Just make a list of your income and when it arrives, as well as a list of what has to be paid when. Check each item off and date it when it is paid. Don’t forget to budget adequate amounts for items like food, gas, entertainment, etc. If you have those items in your budget, it’s also a good way to track how much you are actually spending on them each month.
A good way to begin the budgeting process is to sort out all of your legal and financial papers and file them so you can find what you need when you need it. For example put bills that are due on the 10th of the month in one folder, and bills that are due on the 25th in another folder. Once you have paid a particular bill, shred it and dispose of it, in order to save confusion. Any other financial information, like savings accounts, mutual funds, etc. should also be stored in appropriately labeled folders. At the first of the year, when your tax documents start coming in, put them all in one folder with the tax forms. When April 15 rolls around, you won’t have to dig through piles of mail on your desk to come up with all of the appropriate documents and forms. Items like insurance policies should also be labeled and file so that you can readily find them if and when you need them.
Find Ways to Save Money
Do some brainstorming about your expenses and how you could possibly cut back on them. It is wise to write them down on paper because it is less easy to dismiss them that way. For example, can you cut down on the amount of gas you use by taking public transportation? If you eat out often, consider making more meals at home. Examine your buying habits. Do you go shopping when you are depressed? Do you go grocery shopping when you are hungry? Do you purchase items advertised on the shopping channel without every leaving your easy chair? These are all practices you can change. Find healthier activities for when you are feeling down go for a long walk instead of going shopping. Make a grocery list and carefully plan what groceries you need for the coming week, then go to the store and buy them. Coupons can be advantageous if you buy name brand items, but store brands are often cheaper in the long run. Watch the weekly sales flyers in the local newspaper and buy items like meat when they are on sale. It’s handy to have something in the freezer to fix, and less costly in the long run than making a quick trip to the store after work and picking up only what you need for that night’s meal.