General

Getting Started with Your Personal Finances

Are you one of those people that start to feel uncomfortable at the mention of the phrase “personal finances”? Don’t worry – you’re far from alone. Many have this problem nowadays, especially younger folks who’re just starting life as proper adults and have no idea what to expect from it. It doesn’t have to be this way forever though – even though some people definitely don’t seem to be aware of that, and keep banging their heads against the wall for years on end.

If you want to get things under control, there’s no better time than now. It won’t take that much effort to bring the situation to a stable level, and the earlier you start, the better it will benefit you in the long run. If you’ve made this realization early in your life, this is great news for you.

Sort Out Any Issues First

First things first – do you have any financial problems? Most people do. Some may not realize that there’s anything wrong with their money, but the problems are still there. Before you proceed, you should prioritize fixing those issues first. Many people tend to postpone the resolution of those problems as much as possible, hoping that they are just somehow going to go away on their own.

But as you’re probably guessing, that never happens. It’s up to you to take matters into your own hands. Start paying those bills on time, talk to your lenders if you’re late on payments, and ensure that you’re in constant communication with anyone that might have a financial interest in you at the moment.

Use Modern Tech

You probably have a computer or smartphone – very likely even both. If you’re not using them to handle your finances yet, you should definitely start doing that as soon as possible. There’s a lot to gain from integrating modern tech into your personal finances on a deep level, especially if you already use online banking and other similar fundamental tools. You’ll have a much better overview of what’s going on with your money, and you’ll never be late on any payments again just because you’ve forgotten about them in the first place.

Of course, this is not a magic wand that will simply resolve your problems automatically. But it’s still something that will go a long way towards improving your financial situation.

Build the Right Habits

Being a responsible adult is largely about habits. Especially when it comes to something like finances. If you’re not used to saving money, comparing prices, spending in a more limited way, and other “adult” things, it will take a while to build those habits. You’ll have to be persistent, because just like any other habit, these take a lot of repetition to get developed properly.

But on the bright side, exactly because they’re habits, it will be very easy to maintain the momentum after you’ve laid down the groundwork. You’ll find yourself subconsciously gravitating towards the right choice in each situation, and at some point you’ll stop second-guessing yourself, as you’ll have developed confidence in your ability to handle your money the right way.

Know Your Options

Don’t stick to the same default option that you’ve always chosen. Maybe you picked your bank because it was the first one that popped into your head. Or you’re paying a higher interest rate on your credit card because you never bothered to compare the available deals. There are many examples of this all around you, and you’ve probably noticed some of those details in other people in your life too. That’s part of the problem, it’s usually easier to recognize this issue in others than it is in yourself.

But you’ll have to start being more active in exploring your available options and comparing them in detail. Nobody will do that for you, and in fact, some retailers are hoping that you won’t bother to do that in the first place.

Track Your Progress

It’s easy to get the wrong idea about how well you’re doing with your finances. This is valid for both ends of the spectrum. Some people believe that there’s nothing wrong with their situation when they’re on the verge of absolute disaster, while others are constantly worried that things are going bad when they’re in fact in a better situation than most people in their class.

The point is, without some method of tracking your progress over time, there’s no way of knowing whether your hunches are true or not. But by seeing an objective overview of how well you’ve been doing and how far you’ve come, you’ll not only know you’re on the right track – you’ll be motivated to continue walking along it.

How to Use Your Smartphone to Improve Your Personal Finances

Pretty much everyone has a smartphone in their pocket these days. It might not be the latest model, but even a mid-range device is often enough to do some very complex tasks which were exclusive to high-end desktop computers just a decade or so ago. The progress here is amazing, but what’s also amazing is how few people are taking advantage of that situation. For most smartphone owners out there, it’s a glorified Facebook/YouTube/gaming/music machine and nothing more.

But some understand the true implications of what they have, and know how to take full advantage of what their devices have to offer. And when it comes to something like personal finances, there is definitely a lot to gain from using your smartphone the right way.

Budget Tracker

You don’t have to guesstimate the total value of your accounts or the next payment date for your loans if you have a good budget tracker installed. Most of the popular modern solutions on the market aren’t even complicated to use at all, so you can get started with just a few taps. How detailed you’re going to be with this is entirely up to you. Some budget trackers can allow you to go into extreme depth when defining your finances and tracking your progress.

But even some simple tracking points will be enough to improve the way you’re looking at your finances, if you aren’t paying attention to those things already. After using a budget tracker for just a while, you’re going to notice some definite improvements in the way your money flows.

Online Banking

Online banking is a service provided by default by pretty much every bank nowadays. So why aren’t you using it yet? In many cases, it doesn’t cost anything extra to activate it for your account, and it can simplify a great deal of operations. From simple things like checking your account on the go, to sending money and getting alerts for suspicious activities, online banking is a huge time saver that everyone should use.

Just make sure that you follow all security precautions when setting up your account though. Online banking is also a ripe target for many attackers due to its popularity, and you should be careful to avoid accidentally compromising your account. Don’t reuse passwords, use secure connections only, and ask your bank if they offer any hardware token options.

Shopping Lists

Keeping track of what you need to buy can become a nightmare if you have a lot of things on your mind. It gets even messier if you want to compare prices and ensure that you’re getting the best deal available. You should take advantage of some modern shopping list solutions to ensure that you’re not missing out on anything potentially important. These can be useful for anything from everyday shopping at the grocery store, to long-term purchases that require a lot of complex analysis, like a car or even a house.

Think of it as a separate notebook specifically designed to highlight every aspect of your purchases that will impact your finances and long-term prospects in some way.

Loyalty Programs and Discounts

Many stores offer loyalty programs and special discounts to users who use their apps or follow them on social media. But doing that without a smartphone can be very difficult, and in some cases outright impossible. You’re potentially missing out on a lot if you’re not actively exploring those options from time to time. Some stores will even directly give you back some of the money you’ve spent in them as long as you use their apps!

Of course, there’s no such thing as free lunch, and you’re going to have to spend some money to get those bonuses in the first place. But if you’re already a frequent shopper at a particular store, there’s practically no harm in activating those programs.

Easy Payment

Are you making regular monthly payments on something? It’s not just about bills – loans are another popular example. Keeping track of all those payments manually can be a challenge, especially if the payments vary in size and other factors. Some modern tools can help you simplify that to a great extent, in some cases even completely automating the payment process. As long as you have the money in your account, it will be taken out automatically and you won’t have to lift a finger.

This can be very beneficial if you have many different payments with critical deadlines. However, keep in mind that you will need a constant flow of cash into your account for this to work properly. If one day you don’t have enough money and the system tries to make a payment, you might not get alerted fast enough to take appropriate action.