How you can manage your personal finances

Business Q&A

A MANAGING your finances feels like nothing but a lot of paperwork and numbers. You earn X amount, you spend Y and you try to make sure that you are earning more than you are spending. However, your finances are just as much about psychology, habits, and the values you choose to live by. Put another way, your mindset matters just as much as the math. Here are a few ideas to help you manage your personal finances.

Start with your Personal Goals: Know what specific goals you want to achieve with your life. Your goals may be to travel the world, retire early, get married, start a family, own a house. The type of goals you want affects how you will manage your finances. Once you have written down your goals you will need to prioritise them.

Income & expenditure - Put a budget in place and stick to it: The first thing you need to do is write down all your weekly, monthly, bi monthly and annual expenses. This should include standing orders, direct debits and any other living expenses you have, as this will help you understand the level of income you need to sustain yourself and your family and the help you budget your spending.

Shop around to reduce your monthly or annual bills: It is a good idea to analyse all your expenses and look to reduce your bills and direct debits by shopping around for better deals or even changing the way you pay for your bills by for example bundling packages for phone, tv and broadband rather than paying separately for each of them. Give yourself a target of reducing your outgoing payments by at least 15%.

Pay off your Debts: Your debt is a huge obstacle to reaching your financial goals and here are a few ways to manage it better

- Make a list of your debts and prioritise them

- Set up a debt elimination plan to snowball your payments

- While making minimum payments, focus extra money on one debt at a time. Move all the money you were paying on the first debt to the next debt

- Stop carrying credit cards around with you to avoid spending

Build up your savings: It is important to have money on hand to help you deal with difficult financial situations. Be sure that you continue to save for retirement even during difficult economic times. It is important to build an emergency fund to help cover unexpected expenses as well as a possible job loss.

Ask for Advice: Don't be afraid to ask for advice, if you have a friend or a family member who is a financial advisor that is a good place to start. Contact your local MABS office, Citizens information offices are also worth contacting as they have qualified advisers to help with such situations. If you are a sole trader or business start up the local enterprise office has a number of courses or Mentor programmes on how to manage your finances.

Find Ways to Stay Positive: It helps to stay positive in difficult financial situations. It can be hard if you are worried about covering the necessities or looking for ways to take care of your family. Take a look at what you do have and find ways to be grateful each day.

For more information on personal financial management contact Paul Redmond on 053 9170507 or email paul@rda.ie

Can you give me some practical advice on how to manage my personal finances?

Wexford People