Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Financial Security

When a parent gives a child rules to follow, they feel more secure.

What rules are you following to feel more secure about your finances?

Try these five tips from DLM and you will be off to a good start.

Five Minute Finance Fixes

Posted: 21 Dec 2008 11:25 AM PST

Maybe you’re putting off doing anything about your finances because you think you don’t have time. Perhaps you don’t know how much you’re spending every month (except you know it’s too much), and you can never put your hands on those important financial documents when you need them. Maybe you wish there were some quick and simple solutions to your financial problems.

Good news – there are! These simple financial fixes will only take you five minutes. They could set you on the path to recovering control of your finances and getting on top of things. You can do these in the time it takes to boil the kettle. Pick one each day this week, and you’ll soon be firmly back in control of your money.
  • Start a Spending Log
    A few weeks ago, I wrote about how to keep a spending log. It only takes five minutes to start one off. Just follow the instructions in that post, and resolve to spend five minutes filling it in every day. It really won’t take much of your time – and I promise it’ll be a big eye opener.

    Once you know how much you’re spending, you’re in a far better position to take control.

  • Take Out Cash for the Week
    Most people find that they spend less when paying in cash: it’s easy for money on a piece of plastic to seem unreal. And if you only take $30 in notes to the store, you can only spend $30 – no matter how tempted you are by that new DVD.

    You might not need to use cash for everything you buy, but having a set weekly amount for “groceries” can help you resist impulse purchases, and doing likewise for “entertainment” will curb your spending.

  • Find a Box File
    If you loath filing, your financial documents are probably in a mess. You might have pay slips scattered around the house, vital letters shoved into magazine racks, bank statements piled up on your desk… Admit it, if you needed to find something, you’d have to waste several hours searching for it.

    Although we’d all have a perfect, ordered filing system in an ideal world, this is a five minute fix. Get yourself a box file (or just a large cardboard box will do) and stick a label on the front saying “Finances”. From now on, every document that comes in (bills, payslips, bank statements, tax information) goes in that box. You’ll still need to dig through it a bit, but at least everything will be in one place.

  • Cut Up Your Credit Card
    I’m putting this first because it will make the biggest difference to your life: cut up your credit card. Buying on credit – spending money you don’t have – puts you in debt. Even if you always pay off the balance on time, there’s going to come a month when your check goes astray in the mail or you’ll splash out on something you can’t really afford, and then scrape by on the minimum payments – racking up more and more debt.

    If you’ve got a credit card, cut it in half today. Save up for the things you want instead.

  • Register for Online Banking
    Quick: what’s your bank balance? Do you know? Can you even make a decent guess? If you’re anything like most people, you probably don’t have much clue. It’s a pain to have to trek to the bank or an ATM every time you want to check your balance – so don’t. Register for online banking today and you can check exactly how much money you have, whenever you want.

    With my bank, I just popped my card into the ATM and selected “Register for online banking” – as simple as that. You can also use online banking to set up direct debits, make bank transfers, move money between accounts and much more – it’ll save you a lot of time and gives you the peace of mind of being able to easily see which checks have cleared and which payments have gone out.
Pick one of the above – or something similarly easy and quick – to do today. And if you have a five minute finance tip, share it with us in the comments!

Written on 12/21/2008 by Ali Hale. Ali runs Alpha Student, a blog packed with academic, financial and practical tips to help students get the most out of their time at university.Photo Credit: *L*u*z*a*

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