Are You Bad With Money?
When Glen and I got married and combined our finances, I took the checkbook and handed it over to him. I told him I hate this job and it's yours now. I don't like managing money. I never thought I was "bad" with money, it's just a pain to balance finances. Here are some ways to decide if you're bad with money or not.
Do You Get a Large Tax Refund Every Year?
If you answered yes, it means you're having too much money taken out of your pay check every week. If you look forward to that huge chunk of change come your way every spring, you may want to keep it that way because it forces you to save money, but it's better to get a little more each month and put it into savings where it can draw interest. Plus, you'll have that savings account for a rainy day slush fund.
Do You Know Where Your Money Goes?
If you aren't paying attention to where your money goes, you likely are wasting money and don't know it. The brain trusts over at Forbes Magazine say you should sit down with at least three months worth of bills and write everything down on a spreadsheet so you know where every penny goes. There are also websites like Mint to track your spending and here's the best part: It's not going to cost you anything. The money tracker is free. They also have apps for the iPhone and Android.
Do You Plan Ahead?
If you don't plan ahead for bigger expenses like vacations, you may end up buried under a heap of credit card debt. If you plan ahead, it's easier to work it into your monthly budget. Figure out how much your next family vacation will cost you and then divide it by 12. That's what your next vacation will cost you over the course of a year and make sure you squirrel that much away per month to pay for it.
Do You Save?
How much is left at the end of the week or the end of the month before your paycheck goes into the bank? Take that amount and deposit it into your savings account. Chances are you're like me and you don't have a ton left over, but there are some programs that banks and credit unions are implementing that allow you to "stash your cash" where each purchase is automatically rounded up and the remainder goes directly into your savings account. Some even allow a certain portion of your paycheck goes into your savings account automatically.
Do You Contribute to Your 401K?
Does your company match dollar for dollar for your retirement account? If so and you aren't contributing, chances are you're missing out on free money and who wants to do that? If you contribute just enough to get the match, but Forbes says it's a good idea to contribute at least five percent and increase that amount by one percent each year until you hit the max of 15 percent.