The best and worst thing about money is there’s no such thing as too much. Nearly everyone, especially yours truly, can think of ways to spend cash that has yet to be earned. Sometimes, the problem is nowhere near enough money and that can stress your health, your relationships and your work. The most important thing is to develop a healthy financial view. Here’s how (and like always, I keep it simple).
1. Know where your money comes from and where it goes. Simply put, have a spending plan. Spending plan is a kinder, gentler word for a budget. Use it. Especially if “budget” leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth or, in extreme cases, causes heart palpitations. Budget seems strict and rigid. A spending plan is a proactive approach to getting where you want to be from where you are financially.
2. Understand your bank’s fees so you can avoid paying them. I recently discovered a $5 “bill pay” charge from my bank. I pay my bills online, but I don’t use my bank’s bill pay service? Why am I being charged for that? Don’t be afraid to ask the question. I also avoid ATM fees at all costs thanks to a network of convenience stores that all feature “No Fee” ATMs. Some banks refund out of network fees. Learn your bank’s policy.
3. Learn to read and understand your credit report. You can get one annually from each of the three major agencies from www.annualcreditreport.com. If you’ve never done this, get all three at once the first time. Then, starting a year from now, pull from one agency every three months to make sure your reports are accurate. If you need help, that’s why I am here. Or any credit counseling service in your area will assist you. Your bank should too.
4. Know your score. Your credit score is available on demand from CreditKarma.com. This great, free tool also shows you how to improve your score if that’s necessary.
5. Relax. These simple steps will put you in control of your money than having your money control you. Knowing where you’re at financially will help you identify areas where you can save money or possibly bring more money into your life through making frugal choices, leveraging your talents to earn extra cash or deciding on other ways to increase income.
If I can help, you know where to find me.