You know you need to pay attention to your finances and create some kind of spending plan. So why haven’t you started? Are you just waiting for the right software, book, or moment? Maybe you feel overwhelmed. The reasons for not starting and maintaining your spending plan are endless, but your window of opportunity closes a little more with every day you put off taking care of your financial well-being. What are some of your reasons for not starting?
If I only had the right software
Financial software, like Quicken or Microsoft Money can be helpful. These types of programs allow you to download your account transactions, create a budget, analyze your spending or investments, etc. Online options like Geezeo, Mint or Wesabe do the same thing as the software options, but also have social networks consisting of other users to compare notes with, give encouragement or advice, etc. Best of all, they’re free.
However, if you are waiting to find the perfect software, chances are you never will. I’ve tried all of these and I still find things I don’t like. I say just pick one you like the best and stick with it. They all take care of your basic, spending plan needs. On the other hand, you can also go analog and just use a pen and paper.
If I only had the right book
The personal finance section of your local bookstore or library has a tremendous amount of books offering various plans, systems and advice. Maybe you have read many of these and are waiting for the right plan that fits your situation? The reality is they all teach the same basic financial principles, just using different buzzwords and packaging.
If you haven’t read any personal finance books yet, read the cover blurbs and book reviews, find one that appeals to you, and stick with it. If you have read a lot of these, pick the one you liked the best, or write down the best ideas from them all and create your own personal financial guide.
If I only had the time
We all wish we had more time. The fact is you have to make time for the important tasks in life, and keeping on top of your financial situation is one of these tasks.
If you don’t think you have the time, start small. Take pen and paper with you everywhere you go and write down what you spend as you spend it. Do this for three months. At the end of three months, you will have all the data you need right before you. Reorganize this data to see what you spent your money on, where you can cut back, and create a spending plan that lets you spend less than you earn and allows you to save for your future.
In addition, you can try using one of the software or online options mentioned above. These can go a long way to help you organize in a hurry, though if you were worried about time, I’d go with one of the online options.
You can also save time by using online banking. After the time of the initial set up, you can cut the time you would have spent writing out checks and mailing your bills by setting up online bill pay. Check with your bank to see if they offer this. Most do nowadays.
So now what are you waiting for
Unless you are in real financial trouble, you don’t need to be an expert financial planner in order to start a plan. You know your needs and spending habits better than anyone does. You don’t need software or books to make financial decisions. Use these if they truly help you and appeal to you. Anything that gets you moving toward your financial goals is worthwhile, but the important thing is to start. If you remember to spend less than you earn, and save what you can, you are already on your way to financial success.
Image courtesy of CellPhoneSusie