This is Credit Education Week, and the theme this year is "Every Dollar Counts." The idea is that while we spend time considering big purchases, like a new car or house, we don't consider the small amounts we spend every day, like a coffee or lunch, and those small expenses can add up to big dollars.
I agree, so this week I did a survey of my colleagues and I asked them for their top money management tips, and here is their top 10 list:
- Set goals. If you don't know where you want to go, you will never get there.
- Keep track of your spending. Save all of your receipts and put them in a book or a spreadsheet, so you know where your money goes, and you have the information necessary to decide what expenses you can cut.
- "There's an app for that," so if you like gadgets, pick an app for your phone to keep track of spending.
- If you are more "old school," take your money out in cash each week and don't use a debit or credit card; when the money is gone, that's it for the week.
- Talk to your children about household finances. Very little time is spent in school on this topic, and the school of hard knocks is a tough way to learn about money.
- Weekly expenses are easy to budget; annual expenses like Christmas and birthday presents are more difficult, so set aside money each paycheque for annual expenses.
- Pay for bills from your main bank account, and keep a separate savings account for irregular expenses and savings.
- Debt elimination is always more important than saving. There's no point in earning less than 1 per cent interest in your bank account when you are paying 19 per cent on your credit card balance.
- Once your debt is eliminated, start a savings plan. Have your bank automatically transfer a set amount from each paycheque into a savings account so you don't miss it.
- Ask yourself a simple question: Can I Afford It? If you can't, don't borrow to buy it.
My bonus tip: whatever you decide to do, keep it simple. If you love number crunching, then creating a complicated spreadsheet is great, and if you are very disciplined you can keep track of every dollar you spend.
Most people can't do that. The best plan is the plan that works for you, so keep it simple. One option is to use your debit card for all purchases, so you have a record on your bank statement of all of your spending. That's simple.
If you want to pay cash, get a receipt every time you spend money, and at the end of each week sort your receipts into piles (groceries, gas, etc.) and add them up. That's simple.
Use Credit Education Week as your motivation to review your finances, and make changes now to secure your financial future. Start now, and keep it simple.
Also on HuffPost: