Right now, spending habits are changing, for better or worse. With unemployment at an all-time high and many people working from home, your budget could be totally different from usual. You may be tight on money or have a little extra cash in your pocket.
Regardless of which end of the spectrum you’re on, now is a great time to make sure your finances are in good health. Here are five tips to keep your money matters in order.
1. Keep a spending diary.
Track every dollar you spend. It’s the foundation of a great budget. Even if you're doing generally well financially, it’s important to keep checking where your dollars are going. You can keep your diary in an app, like Mint, or store it as a note on your phone. The combo of a good old-fashioned pen and paper also works — whatever method provides the least barriers for you.
2. Check in on your money.
Next, review your finances regularly. This step is key to making sure that things are running smoothly and keeps you from overspending on things like overdraft or late payment fees. Even if your budget works well, it’s important to look under the hood and check in every week or two. You don’t want to be looking so often that it becomes an obsession, but often enough that you’ll catch any mistakes.
3. Think about your purchase priorities.
You can only spend your money once. When you’re tracking your spending and looking at the big picture regularly, you will be more aware of what you are doing with your money and can make more empowered decisions.
For example, if you don’t care about buying takeout, there’s no need to spend money on that if you would rather be using those dollars to work toward your savings goals or building an emergency fund.
4. Save, even if it’s only a little.
If you can afford it, save a little money. Think of it as paying yourself first. Having power over your finances is all about planning, and a lot of that power comes from having some money saved for when you really need it. Even if you’re not the planning type, you can automate your savings account to do this so you never have to think twice about it. You don’t need a lot; even $10 or $20 a month can do it. So, if you have that money, try to put it away.
5. Go easy on yourself.
Money is an emotional thing — and so is living through a pandemic. If you mess up, it will most likely be OK. And if it’s not, you can do your best to recover. Use these tips to keep your finances in good health. Any step in the right direction, no matter how small, is worth it.