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The last year has been a financial roller coaster ride for most people. For you it may not have been the last year but the last decade. I personally understand how hard it can be to gain control of your finances especially with a family. I have constant expenses outside the normal expenses of mortgage, utilities, insurance, car, medical, dental, and groceries.
Personally, I look at gaining control of my finances like I look at eating right or taking care of myself. When I don’t take the time to eat right or when I don’t get enough sleep I just don’t feel well. It is the same for finances – you must be consistent.
Read on to find out how I have kept in control of my finances even with unexpected life changes.
Stay on Budget
If you have not figured out your monthly expenses, do it. Creating a budget for you and your family will allow you to determine where you spend most of your money every month.
Keeping track of your income and expenses will help you find out how much more you need every month or if you have additional money at the end of the month.
Reduce Monthly Expenses
After you determine your monthly budget look for expenses you can cut back on like cable. Try streaming with Roku, Amazon, Hulu, or Netflix. I use the Philo app on my Roku. It was one of the better choices I made when I turned off my cable service. Go here to subscribe and receive $5 off your first month. I only pay $20 a month for my plan.
Contact your cell phone service and insurance provider to ask your representative if there are any discounts you qualify for. For instance, I receive discounts through Geico and T-Mobile because we are a military family. I am part of a college honor society who has affiliations with other companies too. I receive additional discounts on my car insurance just by being a member.
Be sure to check up on any memberships you have. They just might give you discounts you can use. In addition, ask your cell phone provider if you are paying for add-on services you are not using or do not need.
If you have had a reduction in income, call your student loan provider and ask for an Income Driven Repayment Plan to help reduce your monthly payment.
Something I did that helped me gain control of my finances was to review my subscriptions and dues and eliminate any service I had not used in the last six months to a year. I was able to use the added money to pay other bills.
Reduce Eating Expenses
I have to say I am guilty of eating out and buying coffee and smoothies. Reducing the visits, I make to Starbuck, Dunkin Donuts, and Bahama Bucks was a huge adjustment for me. I have saved anywhere from $20 to $50 a week just on drinks alone. Making trips for coffee, smoothies, and other snacks got expensive for me because I was not just buying for me but for my entire family.
Consider picking up your groceries or having them delivered instead of going to the grocery store. I have been using Walmart pickup since 2018. I found myself looking at and buying items I did not need every time I walked into grocery stores.
Earn Extra Income
I have been earning extra income for most of my adult working years. Honestly, I would not have considered it extra income because my mind set was on paying my bills and taking care of my family.
Extra income helps to pay bills faster, allows for an emergency fund, and keeps you on budget.
Here are some of the ways I have earned extra income:
- Work seasonal jobs
- Sample demonstrator on the weekends
- Make and sell t-shirts, dish cloths, sugar scrubs, and barrettes
- Yard sales
- Create an e-commerce store
- Start a bookkeeping business
- Start a blog
Related posts to help you earn extra income are:
- 9 Initial Steps to Start a Business
- How to Make Drop Shipping Work for Your E-Commerce Store
- How Tailwind Helped My New Blog
- How to Start a WordPress Blog Using SiteGround
- How to Work from Home and Make Money
- How to Make Money Using Your Blog
- How to Start a Bookkeeping Business with Confidence
- How to Become a Freelancer with No Experience
- How to Make an Extra $1000 a Month
- The Best Summer Jobs for Students
Create an Emergency Fund
Creating an emergency fund can take some time and the amount you save up depends on your comfort level. Everyone feels differently about an emergency fund. I suggest putting away enough savings to help you get through at least three months of expenses.
The idea of having an emergency fund is peace of mind. An emergency fund helps with unexpected damages, repairs, or loss of income.
Save for Retirement
Financial freedom is never going to happen if there is no retirement fund to look forward to. When you receive your pay each month pay yourself first.
Saving for retirement is as easy as talking to your human resource department at work about retirement options or opening an IRA. The earlier you invest in your future the more you will save when you retire.
Have Healthy Financial Discussions
It is healthy to have productive conversations about finances. Discussions with your spouse or significant other is important to ensure you are on the same path regarding finances.
It is not uncommon for two people living in the same household to not share the same financial ideas. The goal is to keep the lines of communication open so financial accomplishments can take place.
Review Your Credit
While taking the steps to gain control of your finances, it is important to remember credit matters. Your credit can help you to achieve consolidation loans and future purchasing goals.
If you have credit issues to clean up, make sure you understand them and get them resolved. The three major credit reporting agencies will assist you in resolving any issues. Equifax has some information on how to check your credit score here.
Set Realistic Goals
One of the last and most important considerations to help you attain control of your finances is to set realistic goals. I used to be strict with myself while sticking to my budgets, but I must admit that is not always the case now.
If you are a visual person who likes a quicker result to stay motivated, I would suggest working on paying off your smaller balances first. By paying smaller balances first you see the debt paid off. Then start paying off the next debt on your list.
Consider keeping a percentage of your additional income as a reward. For instance place aside 10% – 20% of your additional income for yourself. For example, if you have an additional $100 then place aside $10 of the money for yourself.
You can treat yourself to something small or you can add the funds to the next amount you save for yourself. Do not get burnt out just focusing on paying bills. Paying off debt can take a while so the idea is to find ways to stay motivated while gaining control of your finances
Gaining control of your finances is important to anyone whether you are single or have a family.
Important first steps to take are:
- Review your budget
- Stay on budget
- Reduce expense
- Earn extra income
- Create an emergency fund
- Pay yourself first
- Keep the lines of communication open
- Review your credit
- Set realistic goals
Reasons why you should gain control your own personal finances are:
- Get rid of the need to borrow money
- Save for emergencies