As y'all probably know, I’m a bit of a personal finance nut. I love talking about budgets, spreadsheets, debt payoff plans, and spending journals (I track every penny). I’m completely self-taught and by no means an expert, but this kind of stuff fascinates me. In my continued quest to be my best financial self (and responsibly fund more amazing trips) I thought I’d share a few more things that I do to help me manage my money.
Check accounts (almost) every day. At least 4-5 times a week I take a few minutes to sign in to each of my accounts (checking, savings, and credit card) and make sure everything looks correct. I can see if checks have cleared, balances have been transferred successfully, etc. It takes maybe ten minutes, tops, and helps me know pretty much exactly how much many I have in each account. It also makes me aware of any funny business ASAP.
Use a calendar and automatic reminders. I rely on my Google calendar a lot. If it ever ceased to exist, I’d be in real trouble. Among the things on my calendar (and in my paper planner, just in case) are when I ran my last credit check and when I should do my next one (I run these twice a year), when big bills are due (like car insurance, which I pay every six months in a lump sum), and random stuff like when my internet bill is set to go up so I can call and argue with Comcast. The calendar remembers it all for me and I’m not blindsided by an unplanned expense that could derail my savings plan.
Have dedicated savings accounts. Instead of one big sum, I have various accounts within my savings that are dedicated to particular expenses. Right now I have a travel fund, a new computer fund, and a wedding fund. I deposit a set amount in each account every month in addition to my main savings account and my IRA. It helps me to feel like I’m working toward a goal, and it makes taking money out for a trip a little less painful because I know I’ve planned for it and have the money to spend.
Max out retirement accounts. This one is a no-brainer but I have to throw it in there because it is so, so important. I max out my employer-sponsored retirement account and my personal Roth IRA. No one cares more about your retirement than you, and planning for retirement is, in my opinion, about the best gift you can give your older self. Can you imagine worrying about money when you’re 85? Me neither. I want to be golfing or walking on a beach somewhere warm, not clipping coupons and working as a greeter at Walmart.
Ask for it. If you want it, “it” being more money, more work, a discount, a credit line increase, etc. then you have to ask for it. The worst they can say is no, which will definitely be the answer if you don’t ask. I’m not always successful when I ask, but I know I will beat myself up if I don’t say anything. For me, “asking” has resulted in flight vouchers, a discount on goods or services, a credit card spending limit increase, more freelance work, and (once) a free upgrade to first class. That one was probably the most fun. It might be hard to screw up the courage, but a discount or more money could be worth all the difference.
Anything I’m missing? Let me know in the comments!