The Financial Foundation
Let's start with the basics. Are you currently using anything to manage your money or keep track of how much money you have? If not, this is something you absolutely need to create today. This is something people call income statements and balance sheets. Every company needs one to operate and so should individuals. There are many tools/apps you can use that are available now (I've used Mint before) or you can use a simple excel spreadsheet, which is what I use now. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’d be happy to share the template I use! Once you set it up, it'd be quick to update on a monthly basis. And don't worry, this doesn't have to get down to the penny but it's important for you to understand how much you spend on a monthly basis and how that translates into your "net earning". Net earnings are your incomes minus expenses. This should be your key metric for you to know.
Let’s take action – this will only take you an hour to review your accounts and to input into a template, but it will help you achieve hours of stress-free living!
1. First step – take a look at your paycheck or source of income
a. How much are you earning?
b. How much is getting deducted?
What are your deductions (i.e. taxes, benefits, 401(k) contributions, etc.). It’s important to separate these because some deductions are contributing to your wealth.
2. Second step – what are your key expenses
a. Living expenses (i.e. rent, utilities, car payments, etc.)
b. Recurring non-living expenses (i.e. gym members, subscriptions, etc.)
c. Recreational expenses (i.e. eating out, bar tabs, movies, travel, etc.)
3. Third step – do you have any debt you are working on paying off?
a. Student loans, mortgage payments, credit card debt
4. Fourth step – are you setting any money aside for savings, investments, etc?
Although you may have a rough idea of all this information in your mind, the importance of writing all of this out will provide a clear picture of how you stand financially and thereby allow you to better set your goals and how you will achieve them. Now it’s your turn to take action now!