Monday, April 16, 2007

You Can Laugh at Money Worries - If You Gain These 7 Simple Skills

Worrying about your finances can be very draining on you and your family. However, there are a few basic skills, if mastered, can transform your finances and your life.

Personal finance and business finance are based on the same principles - only the scale is different. Let's see how business control their finances and apply it to your finances with 7 simple skills.

Skill #1. Learn Where Your Money Goes (Business controls its spending)

This skill is a very easy one to master, all it needs a little discipline. Just get a little diary, keep it with at all times and enter each spending transaction into it for a whole month. Do not leave anything out. Every coffee bought while you were out, every bought work lunch, every magazine and every item of clothing. Look at it and see where your funds are really going. Then think what you could have done without. If it was a work-day Starbuck's Coffee (say $5) - that's worth $1,000 per year! What you could you do with that? That's a short resort holiday or you could put it aside for emergencies.

Once you have the months' spending list, then group the items into categories. You could use Food, Clothing, Transport, Rent/House Payments, Medical and Car Payments etc.

Skill #2. Learn How Much You Really Have to Spend (Business knows what it has available to spend)

This is a little harder - but not much. List out your take-home pay (total income less taxes). Then take off your monthly payments such as house/rent, car, life insurance, credit card and medical insurance. The balance should be what is left to spend.

Skill #3. Learn How to Set Savings Goals (Business sets targets)

Once you have mastered Skills #1 and #2 it's time to sit down and think about what you really need to save for. Is it the kid's education? Is it a holiday for the family or yourself? Is it to set some money aside for retirement? Or, is it to replace the car, furniture or washing machine?

Look at your results in Skills #1 and #2. How much do you have left after taking your spending from your income? Is there anything left over? What happens if there was a spending emergency? What would happen if there was a major car repair cost? What happens if your fridge or washer dies? You need to set aside something each month to cover these events.

Skill #4. Learn How to Live Within Your Means (Business cannot spend more than it can repay)

If the results of Skills #1 and #2 shows that you are spending more than your income whose money are you really spending? It is the bank's or the Credit Card Provider's money. That money has a cost. It's the interest. That is one reason you need help now.

There are only two parts to this puzzle. Money in and money out. The trick is to make more or spend less, or a combination of both. Since it is easier to spend more that to earn more, let's look at some painless ways to spend less.

1. Don't buy things just because they are on sale - only buy when you really need them.

2. Think twice (or even three times) before spending on frivolous items

3. Think twice before you make that mobile phone call. Is it REALLY necessary?

4. Wait for things to go on sale. Usually there is no immediate need to buy many items.

5. Eat at home more often. 1 meal a week eaten at home, not out, could save you $750 per year.

6. Make your work lunch instead of buying it each day. This could save you up to $2,000 per year!

7. Stay busy - start a hobby, improve yourself by reading at the library - anything to keep you from shopping at the mall.

8. Buy clothes from discount shops rather than large up-market retailers. 9. Let your kids take the bus to school rather than driving them.

10. Try to eat natural foods rather than processed foods. You'll save money and stay more healthy.

11. Stop smoking. What a waste of money! It costs you money and it can harm your health.

12. Apply as much spare cash as you can to pay down your credit card debt quickly.

Now, how can you increase your cash coming in?

1. Improve you job/career prospects by taking a course, read books to enhance your work skills at the library.

2. Take online surveys. Check them out on the Internet.

3. Learn how to create your own website. Make your hobby pay for itself.

4. Clean out those items you no longer need. Fill up your car trunk and take them to a weekly or monthly market. You'll be surprised how much people will pay.

Skill #5. Learn How to Develop a "Savings" Mindset (Business only purchases at the best price)

Tell yourself from now on you're not paying full price again for anything. Not clothes, not furniture, not white goods, not car repairs, not insurances, not phones - not even food. Once you set your mind to it, you will find many ways to make this happen. It only needs the will. These tips will help:

1. When buying expensive items play off one store against another. Ask for the lowest price from one store then get the other one to better it. Do this a few times and you'll be surprised how much they can really cut the price!

2. Don't buy clothes at the height of the fashion. Find clothes that mix and match well.

3. Learn a little about how your car works. Don't just take your car to the repairer and say "fix it". Try to narrow down the problem yourself first. Get a couple of quotes.

4. Competition is a wonderful thing. There are always providers of services out these that are ready and willing to beat a competitor's price. This will work for phones (fixed and mobile), insurances, computers, software, car finance and house finance. Make sure the quality is to your standards though.

Skill #6. Learn How to Bargain and not Accept Paying Full Price Again. (Business needs to negotiate prices)

Always ask "What is your best price?" Don't ask "Is that your best price?" Be ready to tell the salesperson the best price you've received from their competition. Then ask the question again, "What is your best price?" Walk away if the price is not to your satisfaction. This is best used on white goods, furniture and vehicle salespeople.

Don't get too stuck on a specific brand or model. Look at all your options.

You can also look for the type of product you require on Ebay. Check their prices and use them to your advantage.

Skill #7. Learn How to Put Your Own Finance Plan in Place - and Stick to it. (Business needs a plan and commits to it)

Now that you have a few more skills to control money in and money out it's time to commit to a budget that will meet your savings and spending needs.

Find a budget plan system that satisfies your requirements. (You can find them on the Internet). Make sure the one you choose it lets you set your goals, checks your ability to meet those goals and then tracks your progress monthly towards those goals. Also, make sure it is good value for money. One system that satisfies all these requirements is "5 Steps to Freedom" Personal Budget. You can learn more by clicking on the links below or clicking on the Author's Profile.

If you learn these skills and put then into practice, you can truly "Laugh at Your Money Worries".

About the Author

Bruce Hokin has designed a simple budget tool called 5 Steps to Freedom Personal Budget. It's based on his extensive background as a qualified, experienced accountant, manager, consultant and financial adviser. You can download this powerful budget assistant today and be hon your way to financial freedom within the hour. It is available at his website

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