How to Learn to Manage Money

No matter how much you might wish it wouldn't, money has a tendency to creep into all areas of your life. You need money to buy a house, pay off your college loans and to keep yourself entertained on the weekend. The key to a well-managed financial life is figuring out how much of your income to devote to each area of your life and still have some left over for emergencies.

Step 1

Make a plan for your money. If you and your partner are bringing in a certain amount of money each week or month but have no idea what to use it for, you'll probably end up frittering the money away on things that seem important at the time but won't really add to your quality of life. Pick something, or several things, that you'd like to achieve financially, such as upgrading to a better house or apartment, paying down your student loans or saving for retirement, and figure out how to make those things happen. You may need to pay 5 or 10 percent more on your loans each month or set aside 10 percent of your income for retirement.

Step 2

Figure out where your money is going each month. Keep track of your small expenses, such as your daily coffee or lunch out, as well as larger expenses, such as your rent or mortgage and loan payments. Add up your expenses at the end of the month and compare the amount to how much you and your partner take in. Work together to make the numbers match by trimming unnecessary expenses.

Step 3

Learn how to use credit wisely. If you don't have a credit card, get one with the highest limit possible. Use the card only for specific purchases and give yourself an allowance for the card that is much lower than the limit. For instance, you may want to get a card to use to pay for groceries or to use for clothing and only charge $200 at most on the card each month. Always pay the card on time and try to pay the balance in full to avoid paying interest. Also make sure you make your mortgage and loan payments on time to avoid fees and to keep your credit score high.

Step 4

Train yourself to save. Set aside money for your savings account first thing after you receive your paychecks. You may want to devote 10 percent of each paycheck to your savings account, but this number will vary depending on how much you owe compared to how much you earn. A simple way to make sure you save is to have the money automatically transferred from your checking to savings account with each pay period. Much like the taxes that are automatically taken out of your pay, you'll learn not to miss the money that goes right into savings.

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