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Many fail to take control of their finances for a number of different reasons. Doing so can seem overwhelming. Facing up to how much you owe in debt or how much you are really spending can be stressful. However, you can change both your mindset and your financial situation by following the steps below.
Consider Your Weak Points
Maybe you spend too much money, or perhaps you want to invest but you don’t know how. You might be intimidated by the terminology you see people use when they talk about finances, or you may be struggling with debt. Be honest about the issues you are facing. People often tie up their sense of worth with their money management, but being bad with money isn’t a character flaw. It simply means that you don’t have the necessary skills and knowledge, which is the case for most people.
Take Concrete Steps
Next, you need to make a plan. You should start with tracking your spending so that you can create a budget. You may want to use an app to track your spending over two or three months to get a more accurate picture of where your money is going. Next, you should take a concrete step to improve your financial situation. That first step can be hardest, so for now, focus only on that. For example, if you want to start saving more, open a savings account and arrange for part of your pay to be automatically placed in that each month. If you want to pay off your debt, you may want to refinance your student loans. Not only can this save on your monthly expenses but it can mean paying less over the life if your interest rates are lower. Don’t get too bogged down in what you choose as your first step. What’s important is to make some forward progress.
Now that you’ve broken the ice by taking that first step, it’s time to take a closer look at your short and long-term plans and figure out how to carry them out. Your short-term plans might include creating an emergency fund or getting rid of a credit card balance. Over the medium term, maybe you want to buy a house or put away a substantial amount of money in your child’s college fund. Longer-term, you may be looking toward retirement. You can break down your goals into smaller ones if they seem too insurmountable. Emergency savings that equals three months of expenses might seem like a lot, but what if you started out with a goal of just $600?
Stay the Course
Financial fitness is a marathon, not a sprint, and there will be times when you get discouraged, make the wrong decisions or overspend. It’s okay to make mistakes. The important thing is to remain persistent and look at the long term. This is especially true when it comes to investing. While there are certainly real stories of people who made the right deal or bought the right stock at the right time and got rich fast, responsible financial management is mostly a matter of being slow and steady.