Monday, August 24, 2009

13 Personal Money Management Tips From LITTOF Readers

It’s been one week since my “B is for…” post where I wrote about the fact that Bob & I have filed for bankruptcy. I also asked for tips from readers on how you manage your money. I have loved reading your comments and getting your suggestions and thought I’d put them into a post because I have a feeling that the comments sometimes get overlooked. And there are some gems here. I found them to be on the whole practical, exciting, charming, specific, unusual and thought-provoking.

I'm not posting all of the comments in their entirety as some reiterate previous tips. (If you'd like to read all the comments as posted by readers, you can do that here.)

Without further ado, here are YOUR tips around making personal finance management easy (easier):

1. General Budget & Finance Check –
I stick to a general budget. I have a rough idea of how much I want to save each month, knowing that things happen and it's not always possible. I do a "finance" check once every month to see what I'm spending on. It hasn't changed much over the past couple years so I'm not as uptight as I used to be :) – Kim

2. Cash Envelope System—
We write out a budget each month, all of our expenses are listed with amounts and we calculate our income for the month. We have $$ budgeted for food/household/hygiene and that amount is set aside in cash at the beginning of the month. I can go over budget in this category so I use the cash envelope system and divide the cash into weekly amounts. Once the $ for that week is spent then that’s it – no borrowing from the next week or using a credit card. It’s made me make smarter decisions knowing I have limited amount of cash for the week – and since spending cash hurts more than a credit card, cash has helped me to carefully consider my purchases. -Holly (Anchorage, Alaska)

3. The RUDE little Post-It Note–
I give myself an allowance every week and when the credit card bill looks like its going over my self-imposed limit I put a post-it on the card with some rude little comment to myself to remind me to rethink my purchase. -mri

4. Dave Ramsey, Dave Ramsey, Dave Ramsey!
My Hub and I follow Dave Ramsey, my in-laws follow him, my sister Lindsey and her Hub follow him, and some of my friends as well. He knows his stuff and he obviously comes highly recommended from MANY people. By following his ideas last year we paid off 5 of our bills and we hope to add more to that this year. –Maxson trio

5. Detailed Budgeting & Quicken-
I have a very detailed budget, but often find myself overspending in some categories (usually in the "household" category!). I track all my money with Quicken. I've been using it since like '97. Seeing WHERE your money goes makes it really easy to change your ways and stop spending as foolishly. I'm also big on electronic banking and automatic payments. Make life simple, and make your money work for you. - Jessica

6. Write it down!-
I write down everything I spend on a spreadsheet and do a monthly spending plan balancing what's coming in and going out. If it comes up short, I cut entertainment, clothes and eating out OR see if there is a way to generate more income. I give very modest gifts for birthdays and things like that.

Also, I do not have an open active credit card. You won’t believe how careful you are with your cash when you have no "emergency" card. Because there is ALWAYS an emergency - like gas or food. That has been the single best thing I have done. And yes, I have huge student loans and all sorts of things but I have never gone hungry and I have never been homeless. The peace of mind is the reward for not spending more than you earn. It's priceless. - Anonymous

7. The power of the mind-
Poverty is in the MIND. Wealth is in the MIND. Many people would pay all they had to have a great partner in life. You are rich, keep that in your mind and soon the outside will reflect the inside. - Anonymous

I forget where I heard about it, but I've been using as a way to keep track of our spending, credit cards, loans, etc. It's not perfect, but it definitely helps me visualize what we're spending too much on, where we can save more, etc. And, it also allows you to create individual budgets, too. - Nicole

9. Nausea As a Repellent-
We don't set a budget, but I get nauseated when I spend money (thanks for the money issues, Dad!) so that's a decent de facto system. -Marta

10. Cut Out the Booze-
My advice for anyone who wants to save money is to cut out alcohol. While I am not a big drinker so this is easy for me, my husband and I estimate that we save several hundred a month by not drinking (as compared to our peers). It’s worth every penny. -Megan

11. Monthly Check-In & Hide Your Cash-
I use Quicken to track household finances. I used to use a cash envelope system, but my apartment was robbed during that time. As it turns out, renters' insurance doesn't cover cash at all! I'd recommend a debit card and Quicken as a great way to go. As someone else noticed, spending habits are fairly consistent over time, so monthly check-in is probably all you need after you get a handle on things. - Suzanne

12. The Colorful Money Jar-
Since I moved to Australia, I don't qualify with my visa status for an Aussie credit card, so I live an all cash life. I have auto payments set up for rent and utilities, then I take out a set amount on Sunday from the ATM and it is what I get to spend during the week. Anything left over gets put in my money jar, which I keep in the kitchen. If I run out early, I can take from the money jar but not from my bank account. The weekly allowance is generally more than I need for a normal week, so the jar fills up with brightly colored Aussie money (pink! purple!) and once several hundred has accrued, I take a long weekend visiting some part of the country I haven't visited yet. -Abby

13. Streamline Your Budget!
I recommend a ruthless streamlining of your budget every couple of months, till you're convinced you are where you want to be. The tool that helped us the most was to keep a spreadsheet of our categories of spending the money that was left over after bills (eating out, movies, post office, coffee, parking fees, hair/beauty, clothes/shoes, etc.). It was shocking in some cases to see how the actual dollar amount was nowhere near our general sense of what we were spending in a particular category. - Crystal

Thank you for sharing your tips, what works and what doesn't work. I'm learning so much through this process!

If you have a tip you have yet to share, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and comment below. I'll be reading.



Unknown said...

I really loved all your 13 tips of money management. But I love the one about guide that you have mentioned in your eight tip..I would definitely like to use it to track my own expenses and incomes.

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