During difficult economic times, intelligently managing your personal finances can mean the difference between living comfortably, and losing your home or being forced to file for bankruptcy protection. This article was written with the average person in mind. It is designed to help you improve your financial situation by teaching you to intelligently manage your personal finances.
If you are materially successful in life, eventually you will get to the point where you have more assets that you did in the past. Unless you are continually looking at your insurance policies and adjusting liability, you may find yourself underinsured and at risk of losing more than you should if a liability claim is made. To protect against this, consider purchasing an umbrella policy, which, as the name implies, provides gradually expanding coverage over time so that you do not run the risk of being under-covered in the event of a liability claim.
Try to live your life using as little debt as possible. Though certain debts are hard to avoid, including those for home and education expenses, it is important to stay away from incurring expensive, unnecessary debt such as credit card debt. The less you borrow, the less you will spend on interest.
Hiring a credit repair company can help you with some of the legwork involved in cleaning up your credit report, but beware of shady companies that make false or misleading claims. These companies may allege that you can start fresh with a clean credit report by using an Employee Identification number (EIN) rather than your Social Security number. However, they neglect to tell you that requesting an EIN from the IRS for this reason is a federal crime.
If you are fortunate enough to have any extra money in your checking account, be wise and don’t leave it there. Even if it’s only a few hundred bucks and only a one percent interest rate, at least it is in a traditional savings account working for you. Some people have a thousand or more dollars sitting in interest free accounts. This is simply unwise.
Create a budget – and stick to it. Make a note of your spending habits over the course of a month. Track where every penny goes so you can figure out where you need to cut back. Once your budget is set for the month, if you find you spend less than planned, use the extra money to pay down your debt.
If you want to save money, then look hard at your current spending patterns. It is easy to theoretically “wish” you could save money, but actually doing it requires some self-discipline and a little detective work. For one month, write down all of your expenses in a notebook. Commit to writing down everything, such as, morning coffee, taxi fare or pizza delivery for the kids. The more accurate and specific you are, then the better understanding you will get for where your money is really going. Knowledge is power! Scrutinize your log at the end of the month to find the areas you can cut back on and bank the savings. Small changes add up to big dollars over time, but you have to make the effort.
Remember, intelligently managing your personal finances is the key to wealth and security. In an economic downturn, being careless or foolish with your money can have grave consequences. Carefully read the tips in this article, and apply what you learn to your own personal financial situation. By doing so, you can protect yourself from financial ruin.