By Bruce Hokin
Managing your spending habits, saving sufficient funds and clearly seeing your personal financial situation are important elements in managing your personal finances correctly. This test will give you an idea of whether you need some more help, or if you’re on top of this important part of your life. (The answers are provided at the end of this article.)
Question #1. What does “living within your means” really mean?
Question #2. What damage can only paying the minimum credit card payments each month do to your financial future?
Question #3. What is the most widely advocated and proven method of getting your finances in order?
Question #4. What are the most important financial goals you can set?
Question #5. Why is it not safe to spend all your income each month?
Question #6. What is the recommended percentage of my income that needs to be saved for emergencies and a savings nest egg?
Question #7. In what order should your bills be paid?
How did you fare with these questions? Did you know the answers? You may wish to check your responses, check out the answers listed below.
Answer to Question #1.
“Living within your means” means spending to live as comfortably as possible, from your income, while saving sufficient funds to adequately cater for emergencies and building your savings nest egg. It also means that you should not rely on external funding such as credit cards and bank finance just to live day-to-day.
Answer to Question #2.
Paying only the minimum credit card payment each month can condemn you to life-long poverty. It is that serious. If you only pay the minimum off your credit card each month you quickly start paying interest on the interest and the debt can spiral out of control. Live within your means, don’t add to your debts, pay cash and pay down that credit card debt as quickly as possible.
Answer to Question #3.
The most widely recommended and proven method for getting your finances in order is to prepare a budget. Please don’t go glassy-eyed and lose interest now. This is an easy task that can finally put you in control of your finances once and for all. There are many resources available on the Internet to help you quickly make a start.
Answer to Question #4.
The most important financial goals you can set are as follows:
a) Set a goal to pay down that credit card debt, both for the amount and the time period. For example, I am going to pay $5,000 off the credit card debt in the next 12 months. Commit to only living off my income starting today. I will always pay cash from today onwards.
b) The second most important goal is to set a savings target. A budget can show you how much you need to set aside for emergencies and that savings nest egg.
c) The third most important goal is to determine to be debt-free. This will transform your life. Work out what you need to live and see how much better your life would be if there was no money being applied to debts each month. It’s like giving yourself a pay raise.
Answer to Question #5.
It is not safe to spend all your income each month for the simple reason that life is unpredictable. If you have no savings buffer then how will you afford the bills that occur when you least expect them? Will you pay for them with your credit card? Then how will you pay that bill?
Answer to Question #6.
The most common percentage recommended to keep aside from your monthly income is 20%. This is a target of course. Not everyone can manage this immediately. Any amount you put aside will be better than nothing as long as you are shooting for a target.
Answer to Question #7.
If you are struggling with paying all your bills each month, the most vital bills are listed below in order of importance:
a) Housing – rent or house payments. If you don’t pay these you may have no home
d) power, water, gas etc.
e) credit cards
The costs of shelter, food, clothing and transportation always come ahead of paying the credit cards.
Are you now a little more understanding of this critically important part of your life? Could you do with some help? There are many agencies and websites dedicated to offering advice and tools to help you better manage your finances. Check them out today. Financial success can be yours. Don’t you deserve it?
About the Author
Bruce Hokin has designed a simple budget tool called “5 Steps to Freedom Personal Budget”. It is based on his extensive background as a qualified, experienced accountant, manager, consultant and financial adviser.