Who knows how to manage their money? My ability to manage money comes from the fact that I’m extremely frugal. My credit card debt is minimal, and my main bills are only my mortgage, car note, and student loans. While I maintain these with ease, I don’t have a savings account. I also have a very huge weakness. I like to dine out. I didn’t realize how bad it got until it was time to purchase my home. For anyone who isn’t familiar with the process, bank statements must be provided for the past few months to ensure you can afford the mortgage. I looked at all of the restaurants in shock; Taco Bell, Chinese, McDonald’s, Penn Station. Something had to give. Fast forward 1 year (because of course I didn’t make an immediate change as I’m also a huge procrastinator) I decided enough is enough. In 2019, my goal became to put actual effort into my finances and savings. But how?
First, I put together a budget. No financial milestones can flourish without the proper groundwork. To pull it off, I decided to kill two birds with one stone. I increased the amount I put into my savings from my paycheck. This way, I had less money to spend on junk food. My second plan of attack was to meal prep each week. Meal preparation is a great way to stick to health goals while also keeping money in my pocket. My next budgeting goal was to cut down on shopping. I am a firm believer in retail therapy. So much so that I often pop into a store, or three, every other weekend. Scaling my shopping trips back to once a month seemed like the only natural decision. Finally, my third course of action was to enlist reinforcements because at the end of the day, I don’t know a damn thing about finance.
My reinforcement came in the form of a book. Money Basics: The Money Workbook for the New Budgeter by Latrice Prater is the best starting point because it covers all the basis. Tables to map out all the monthly expenses? Check. Want to measure the debt to asset ratio or calculate net worth (and also learn what exactly net worth is)? Check. Need to map out finance goals both short and long term? Check mate. The workbook has it all. It’s written in layman’s terms so it is easy to understand. Money Basics is especially perfect for high school and college students. Largely because it makes no sense that we don’t learn these fundamentals until we’re out on our own, trying to correct a mistake we’ve already made. I’m determined to use this book to my advantage. I ultimately decided not to write directly on the pages so that I have a reference point to review or start over each year if necessary.
If you are trying to better yourself financially this year, start by purchasing Money Basics. Then, follow up by creating a budget and a plan that is realistic to stick to. There are tons of budgeting apps to help reach those goals as well. My favorites are Mint, Clarity, and Fudget. Three weeks in and I’ve already saved about $50 a week. That’s $2,600 at the end of the year! May not seem like much to some, but that’s a plane ticket and hotel to some place tropical where I can chill out with a margarita in my hand. Alas, meeting financial goals can be the tipping point for all types of accomplishments. Don’t waste another year swamped in debt, make prosperity the priority.