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In a day and age where the national economy is so unstable and the job market so bad, it is very crucial that people realize how important it is to manage money sensibly. Those who take control of their money can make it go further, have less stress and worry, and be happier overall - even if they are not as rich as they would like to be. The most important thing you can do to help your financial situation is to plan and manage your funds in an effective manner.
The Proper Way to Balance
The first thing consumers must do is to learn how to balance a checkbook. This is not just a one-time deal now and then when you feel like it. You need to be recording every transaction you make - whether cash, credit card, debit card, or check. When bank statements arrive each month, consumers need to go over it and balance the checkbook. You should do this at least once a month. Many people do weekly checks online to make sure all transactions are going through and that no fraudulent charges are being made on their account. Also make sure you always know how much money you have in the bank, and consumers should not write any checks unless they are absolutely sure the funds are available to cover it!
Plan Your Month
The next thing consumers should do for better money management is to come up with a printed financial plan for the month. This plan, also known as a budget, can be a very helpful tool allowing you to plan how you will spend your income each month and what expenses you will have to cover. Your budget can benefit you and your family, allowing you to stay on track and live within your means. If you know that for the current month all bills will be covered and basic needs met but there is no money for 'extra' purchases, then everyone in the family should abide by that. There should be no clothing shopping sprees, new accessories for the car, or a new video game purchase. A printed budget can help you make sure the family needs are met so you are less likely to be faced with the dilemma of deciding between paying the mortgage or buying food for the month because you made a guilty pleasure splurge early in the month.
Keeping your check book up to date and balanced can go a long way in helping to secure your financial standing. Your income can vary month to month, as can your expenses. When you have your check book up to date and are working from a budget, you will know if you had any money left over from last month that can help cover this month. For example, say in June you had all your bills and expenses covered and have a few hundred dollars left over. Instead of splurging, you kept most of that extra money because you knew from your budget that July might be tight because you needed vehicle work done. The money you saved in June would help offset the expense of the car repairs and help keep you from getting into a bad financial situation.