Author: Liz Frome
If ever there was a time to stop and assess the state of your finances, this is it.
Whether or not this financial tsunami has hit you personally, now is an excellent time to study and fine-tune the various elements of your personal finances. I feel there are four categories to keep in mind: Cash Flow, Housing, Retirement, and Priorities. To make changes to your financial situation you truly need to understand your cash flow. I have listed below some ideas on how you can possibly tackle this. To get started I have a simple budget worksheet; fill in your spending for each of these categories and you may find ways to cut back and get on top of your finances for 2021.
Some questions to ask yourself and if any apply to you it is time to maybe seek professional help.
Is your rainy-day fund shrinking?
Are you getting collection notices?
Are you making the minimum monthly payments on your credit cards?
If your obligations are overwhelming pick up the phone and call all your bills to see what help they can provide you. You can always get low-cost or free credit counseling. Some options: The National Foundation for Credit Counseling, or The Financial Counseling Association of America.
CASH FLOW – WAYS TO CUT SPENDING
Pull out your recent banking and credit card statements; pull out a few months and compare them. Think about all the things you are not doing currently because of the Pandemic and ask yourself do you need these things? Example: Do you need to go back to the gym? I personally have set up a gym in my extra bedroom and I am saving $500 a month currently and I will not be going back to the gym after the Pandemic. (This amount is a combination of myself and my husband.) I called all my providers for my office and for home and it is amazing what you can cut back on and not even miss the services. Example: I started with the medium plans for my cable provider and when I realized how little I actually watch television I took the next step and switched to the lowest plan.
You can’t cut back on what you don’t know you are spending so creating a basic spending log is vital; It will be a wonderful tool going forward.
SIMPLE MONTHLY BUDGET WORKSHEET
Fill in your numbers for each category
Maintenance / HOA:
Out of pocket health care:
Museums/Live Events / Movies:
Credit Card Payment:
Total Monthly Spending:
Now you have gone through your finances with a fine-tooth comb and have an understanding of where your money is going each month and where you can cut back. You need to ask yourself what the necessities are: Housing, Food, Clothing, and Transportation. Then you can go through and see if you have a rainy-day fund and if not then question your nonessential purchases.
The key is to jump in and start so you are not feeling overwhelmed with your finances and do keep in mind you do not have to make decisions right away. The above exercise is for you to understand your finances and then to make a change if you choose to or to reach out and get help. Sometimes it is intimidating but keep in mind you can start with small changes and then once you have momentum and feel comfortable you can start tackling some of your larger financial issues.
More tips to come.