It all starts with a simple step – make a budget! The most important thing about improving your family finances is to get a clear picture of exactly where you stand. Once you know that, you have a clear understanding of the positive and negative aspects of your financial position you can identify clear steps to take in order to move forward, and improve your finances.
A budget is the backbone of any financial endeavour – whether you are running a business or a household. You must be clear about what financial responsibilities you have, as well as be clear about what your income sources are. The key here is to be completely open and honest with yourself – if you’re not, the whole exercise is futile.
It’s also important to identify financial goals for yourself and a clear timeline in which you want to achieve them. Examples may include going on a holiday, buying a car, paying off existing debt, or buying a house. No matter what the goal, make sure you have a set date you want to achieve it.
To speed up the achievement of your goals, take steps to increase savings, income streams (if possible) and reduce your level of debt. Your personal debt is money you give to someone else each time you have income, so obviously if you reduce those debts, you’ll improve the amount of investable (not disposable) income.
Pay off your credit cards, then cut them up to make sure you don’t run them up again. Pay extra – as much as possible – on your debts to repay them earlier. This will usually save you money because the longer you have these debts like a car or personal loan, the longer you are charged interest. The more you pay on the debt, the less interest is charged and you can pay it off quicker because you are reducing the principal amount of the loan.
If you’re like most people you will have multiple interest incurring debts. You can attack your debt using a number of strategies. Personally, I like to repay smaller amounts first, because the psychological impact of removing a debt from your list of liabilities is fantastic. Plus, the amount you used to pay on the smaller debt can then be snowballed onto other debts – reducing them quicker. Other people may like to repay any extra they have on the debt which is incurring the highest amount of interest. The bottom line is that you should do whatever suits you and your goals.