Whether you earn $30,000 per year or $60,000, somehow it never seems to be quite enough. Our bills tend to rise as our income does. You get a raise and take out a loan to buy a car. Now your raise is going straight to your car payment and it doesn’t feel like you’re making any more money than you were before. There has to be a better way—and there is. You must take control of your money instead of letting it control you. Here are six money management tips that will help put you back in the driver’s seat.
1. Save your raises. If your income increases, your first instinct is to spend that money, but you’ll never get ahead that way. Instead, put that money into savings. For example, if you’re making $50 more per week, set up an automatic transfer to move $50 from your checking account to your savings account each week. You’ll be surprised how fast this adds up. Next time you need to buy a car, you might just have the money to pay cash instead of getting a loan. That will save you a ton of money on interest.
2. Shop with a list. Always know what you’re going to buy before you go to the store. Make a list and stick to it. Take a good inventory of your pantry or kitchen before going to the store and make a list of the things you need. There’s a temptation to add items once you get to the store—usually impulse items like junk food. These types of items are costly and can really run up your grocery bill.
3. Eat before you shop. Going grocery shopping on an empty stomach is a recipe for disaster. Always eat first. That way, you won’t be tempted by every delicious-looking treat.
4. Keep track of everything. There are many ways to keep track of your money today. You can do it the old-fashioned way with a handwritten check register, keep a spreadsheet, or use an app on your phone. Regardless of which method you choose, it’s important to keep records so you know how much money you can spend. Spreadsheets and apps have the advantage of being able to keep track of future expenses, so you can see how much you need to save for bills.
5. Identify triggers. If you find yourself stopping at McDonald’s on the way home from work every night, find a way to stop that behavior. What if you keep a box of protein bars in the car as an after-work snack? Would that curb your appetite enough to let you resist the urge to stop for fast food? Even if you’re ordering from the dollar menu, those splurges add up. Pay attention to when and where you’re spending extra money and take steps to prevent that behavior.
6. Stock up when things are on sale. Pay attention to how often you buy things and how often they go on sale. Often, you can save money by buying extra when there is a sale. If you know ground beef goes on sale every three to four weeks, buy enough to last that long when it’s on sale and freeze it so it will last until the next sale.
Following these money management tips can help keep you in the black financially. However, everyone needs a little help now and then. If you find yourself coming up short, Tio Rico has personal loans and auto title loans to help you get back on your feet.