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learn how to manage your money Today I come to you with a little bit of advice and a wee bit of a cautionary tale, my friends. I want to talk about money and why we as women need to know what’s happening with our money; everything from where it’s going to who has it.

Women end up with less superannuation, fewer leave entitlements and comparatively less overall wealth than their male counterparts, and that is just not good enough. Unless your plan is to become the next Beyonce, you need to consider what you are going to do to make sure YOU have enough to manage your retirement or before then, support your family.

 

First, I will start with the usual disclosure. You are responsible for the financial decisions you make, I am not a professional financial adviser, nor do I know your personal situation. Please make your own enquiries to see if any of these suggestions will work for you. With that done, let’s start.

 

I haven’t always managed my money well, sometimes it’s been all kinds of ordinary. Heck, there have been times that I didn’t have any money to manage. I’ve been behind on tax returns, forgotten to pay bills that have led to disconnection and maxed out my credit cards with the best of them. It’s undoubtedly not Scrooge McDuck piles of gold around here.

But I’ve learnt a few things along the way that I thought might help and figured, reminding myself wouldn’t hurt either. These habits aren’t purely related to personal finances; they are related to your business too. So let’s do this together and plan a better future for ourselves, our families and our businesses.

 

Start to save and be ruthless.

 

Every time I get myself into some financial difficulty, I make myself promises about saving more for a rainy day. Saving only ever occurs to me as necessary when I am drenched with an umbrella turned inside out and useless. My challenge to us all is to save now and save whenever you have the chance; 5% of what you earn is a modest amount, most guides recommend 10%.

Putting money aside is a practice we all need to get into more, living pay-day to pay-day makes us feel like we have no options, are trapped and smoother whatever creativity we are hoping to have. When you have no savings for a rainy day or to invest in your education and advancement, you are at the control of someone else. Pretty much anyone else. Sound like a good enough reason to stop doing that? Me too.

 

Don’t touch your savings unless it’s to invest.

If you are one of those people who can always manage to put aside a few hundred dollars, maybe even a few thousand before an emergency happens and wipes it all clean, you need another account. You need a savings account, and another “the sky is falling” account.

The purpose of your savings account is to collect interest, making sound investments or investing in your education. Your “the sky is falling” account is for those rainy days when you need to pay for your dog’s vet bills, replace your refrigerator or pay for half a fence your neighbour is insisting on. It’s a little more loosely qualified what you can spend it on. Anything goes as long as you don’t wipe yourself out.

 

If you use credit cards, do it properly.

Some of the wealthiest people I know live by swiping their credit cards. They buy everything from groceries to paying their electricity account on their credit card. The difference is that at the end of the month they pay off the balance, IN FULL. How often do you do that?

I’m not sure I’ve EVER done that.

The idea is that you put your weekly, fortnightly, or monthly payments into an account and drawdown what you need to pay back the amount on the credit card at the end of the month. If you’re living within your means, this shouldn’t be a problem, right?

That’s the real issue; most of us are not living within our means, we buy those consumer items we don’t need. Whether we do that to make ourselves feel good or because they’re so pretty, and we can’t wait to save our pennies to have them. It’s not good enough to be blunt about it, and if you feel like you can’t operate in this way with your credit cards, it’s time to cut them up. Check out this post about how we managed to pay down our credit cards that I wrote earlier.

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Get advice from someone who knows what they are doing.

 

My brother is a financial planner and mortgage broker, so when I was writing this article, I spoke with him about a couple of reference points and what I’d planned to discuss. While I knew I’d have the disclosure at the top, I still wanted the information to be as accurate and informative as it could be. So thanks, Dean boy, I appreciate the help.

I went to him because he trains hard, he knows what it is like to raise a young family while continuing to plan for their future and manage their finances but still allowed them to ‘live’ without paying for it later. I trust him to advise me as someone who knows stuff and lives by example. Mostly {I couldn’t resist, big sisters have long memories – HA}. You should do the same.

 

If you know someone who manages their own money well, ask them for advice. If you don’t know anyone or it turns out the people you know are actually just keeping up with the Jones’, then there are professional out there ready, willing and able to give you advice. For a fee. I am told that the first consultation is often free. You won’t get specific information, but you will be able to discuss your concerns and questions with the financial planner and get an idea for their fees.

It’s important to remember that most financial planners WILL be making a commission from someone, somewhere; banks, superannuation providers and insurance companies. To a good planner, it will take second place to tailor a plan that will work for you and your goals. If you get that sales pitch vibe, get out of there. You must select someone with a good reputation, which can provide quality relatively unbiased advice and someone who you are comfortable with.

Sometimes the best advice you can receive is from people you don’t know personally.

 

Wealth creation books are everywhere, and there are strategies to suit every person. Why no dip your toe in the water by reading a book or two on the subject and start seeking advice from some of the world’s wealthiest men and women? Consultations with these people may be well out of your price range, but books, second-hand, new or iBooks are relatively cheap, take charge and give yourself the best advice out there.

When looking for great financial advice, ideas to create more money and stop repeating the same mistakes, I like to draw from sources all over the place. But only ever from people who know what it is to have money in the bank, to prepare for your financial future and who are committed to the same end goal as you. Choose wisely, the advice is only as good as the person giving it.

 

Budget like you’ve never budgeted before

 

If you are reading all this and thinking that there is not an inch to move. You’re stuck between what you can earn right now and what you spend; your expenses are fixed, and it’s overwhelming. The time has come to start a budget. Knowledge is power, and the sooner you know where your money is coming from and going to the sooner you can make changes.

Open your bank statements and start now by entering everything you have spent for the month there. If you’re like me, most of your spending is via EFTPOS or direct deposit, so this is a great place to get started. Have a column for money in and money out, the date and how much.

Then start collecting your receipts.

 

Weekly or at the end of the month enter those receipts, finish your bank statement information, and you’ll have a comprehensive snapshot of what you are spending. If you want to get REALLY nerdy (I did, oh my I did) add totals columns to add up categories like phone, electricity, rent/mortgage, spending, clothes, insurances, etc. By doing this, you’ll be able to see the breakdown of your money and the areas it’s being spent.

There’s no use putting all this together if you then don’t make a plan to reduce your spending, increase your savings and know where your money is going. Start to draw out your spending, clothing or entertainment money every month, and once it’s gone, it’s gone.

I’ve successfully budgeted in one period of my life, and it was an empowering feeling.

 

We did it to reduce our credit card and personal debt as quickly as possible while managing mortgages and other expenses incurred with new businesses. It was hard work to start with but as I got into the swing of thing, set up my regular direct debits and let them go and limited what I spent weekly on ‘other’ items there was money left over. Not much, but a smidgen.

Take a look and see what you can find out for yourself. Make a plan around what you learn that will bring you closer to achieving your savings or investment goals.

 

Clean up your act.

 

The thing I struggle with most is knowing what I have coming in and going out, managing payments and keeping on top of my data entry, filing and by extension, my taxes. If you’re like me the time to clean up your act is now. Is your area clean and clear and manageable? If you don’t have a small space to work with to consider things like your budget, your payments and such things, then you need to create one.

Are you having problems managing your paperwork?

My accountant advises that I keep a folder on or near my desk split by dividers into months and a hole punch. As I pay bills, send invoices and collect receipts they go immediately into that folder. Even monthly is way ahead of where I am now. It means all those things are there when it comes time to put my tax together.

Is it time to clear the air?

Have you got a debt hanging over your head or a bill to pay? Maybe you owe the tax department a return or two? Get in and tackle those sooner rather than later. I had a mentor once who told me that money never hangs around people who can’t be trusted for long. Restore your integrity and get your house in order and you will be surprised what will show up.

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Did you get all that? It’s about taking the time to clean house; clearing a path to live the sweet life free from worries and stress. Sure it looks impossible now (maybe that’s just me?) but there is room for us to move here. Space to take control of the lives we live. To breath because you don’t have these concerns about money and how to manage it hanging over your head. Start today. I know I am.