Where Is Your Money Going?

How You Can Keep A Handle On Your Finances

Balancing that checkbook can be so frustrating. It can take tons of time and energy. Add that to the disappointing balance at the end of the month, and you just might avoid it altogether. So how can you better keep a handle on your finances?

via Pictures of Money @ Flickr Creative Commons

via Pictures of Money @ Flickr Creative Commons

I have an open and ongoing survey for you to fill out that will help me know how I can best help you. If you’ve not done so, please hop over there and let me know what you’re thinking.

I’ve started to see a trend in the responses. About 3/4 of my readers feel like they don’t have enough money to really accomplish what they want to do in life. I’ve been there, and can totally relate!

You look around and it seems that everyone else is going on vacation, buying new cars, living in a nicer house, etc. while you go without just to be able to make ends meet.

My experience makes me believe that most of these people are actually a lot like this guy (ignore the ad at the end)…

It’s kind of funny…Unless you are this guy.

Why You Should Get Your Act Together

1. Money is a living, breathing thing. Don’t believe me? Why is it that if you don’t balance your checkbook in two weeks that you’ve all of the sudden ran out of cash?

Money moves even without being told. It goes to automatic payments, debit card and credit card purchases, a quickly written check to buy that present you forgot. If you don’t keep tabs on it and tell it what to do, it will quietly leave on it’s own.

2. You’re being a good steward. When you think of Jesus, you probably don’t think about keeping good financial records. But God wants you to keep track of what you spend, what you owe, and what you earn.

The Bible says “Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds, for riches do not last forever; and does a crown endure to all generations?” (Proverbs 27:23-24)

Instead of “know the state of your flocks”, today we might say “know the state of your stocks”. In other words, you should know where your money is going.

If you don’t know where it is going, you’re already hearing the warning alarm going off. Ignorance plus easy credit equals financial disaster.

Great Resources for Your Finances

I want you to be able to get started on some things right away. You need to find what works for you, but there are a few principles that are universal when it comes to tracking your money.

1. You and your spouse MUST be on the same page. There aren’t many things that can spur such a large argument as different philosophies with finances. Usually, one is a spender and the other is a saver. One loves planning, charts, and graphs while the other is purely moved in the moment. Neither is necessarily wrong, but if they don’t work together, the marriage is certain to fall apart.

Instead of trying to “convince” your spouse that your way is the right way, why not try letting a third party do the talking? I recommend Dave Ramsey because he continues to help my wife and I stay moving in the same direction.

He has lots of great books that include The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness (Affiliate Link). This takes you through what Dave calls the financial “baby steps”. These are actionable, prioritized steps that will get you moving in the right direction QUICKLY.

Another great book is Smart Money Smart Kids: Raising the Next Generation to Win with Money (Affiliate Link). We all know that kids don’t come with an instruction manual, but for teaching them about finances, this may be the best out there.

If you love to keep your budget with you, check out EveryDollar. It’s a free download for your phone that helps you live more and worry less. You’ll never have to wonder again whether you have enough money in your budget to eat out, buy that gift, or go out to that movie. This is also a Dave Ramsey tool.

2. Your tool must be as mobile as you are. I tried the checkbook ledger but could never remember to take the time to deduct debit card transactions. After working in the office all day, the last thing I wanted to do was come home and do more paperwork. If you can relate, I have a couple of options for you.

For those of you who use Google Apps, you can enter in your information into a Google Sheet which will automatically add and deduct transactions, just like you would in your checkbook ledger.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to understand cell formulas to make it work. Someone has already created the templates for you and they’re FREE. Check it out here.

The latest tool I’m using is a free tool from Mint.com. It has everything I look for in a personal finance tool. After creating the account, I downloaded the app on my wife’s phone so she sees everything I see.

In this app, you can set a budget, track your net worth, and sync your various accounts. Some other really cool features include:

Budget Creation: When you first sync your bank account, it looks at the past 90 days and creates a suggested budget based upon past spending trends.

Category Identification: It automatically identifies what category a transaction falls into and places it in that budgeted category.

Triple-Layered Security: Even if someone takes your phone, besides encryption, there are other layers of security that include passcode and/or thumb-scanning (iPhone) that keep your data secured.

Notifications: Set up the program to notify for any number of things. When you overspend in a category, when the bank charges you a fee, when your account reaches a certain dollar amount. It even sends suggestions!

QUESTION: What is the one thing that you absolutely HATE about tracking your money? Ask the community and maybe someone will have a solution!

 

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