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Money management enables an individual to live comfortably within their means. Having some sort of money management guide will help you feel in control of your finances, and also help you save for an emergency and for retirement.

First, you need to know exactly what you have. Buy a notebook, or create a file online to list all your assets as of today. This includes cash in your pocket, money in your checking and savings accounts (if you have one,) money in your piggy jar. Count it!

Money is not your only asset. Identify all your other assets, such as property, your car, investments, other things like jewelry, furniture, antiques, artwork, personal collections such as a valuable coin collection. Although you do not want to be in a position to need to sell your personal belongings , itís good to see in black and white exactly what you own. They are all part of your wealth. You would be surprised at the number of people who have no idea how much money they actually have or what they own.

Next, track your income. For one month (at least) record in your notebook or online, everything you spend money on. Everything. No matter how small it is, you need to see exactly where your money is going.

Now that you know exactly how much you have and exactly where itís going, plan and follow a monthly budget. Make a list of all bills, with your mortgage or rent at the top. Having a place to live is the most important thing and brings peace of mind to know you at least have that covered. If you have a car payment, and need a car for to and from work - it will probably be next on your list. This is followed by food, utilities, etc.

The following tips are meant to help anyone who is looking to curtail expenses and/or save money:

Open a savings account and ďpay yourself first.Ē Even if itís only $25 dollars per month. As you pay off credit, or if your income increases, slowly increase the amount of savings.

Use store lay-a-way plans instead of using credit cards.

Pay off credit cards. Pay as much as possible over the minimum payment - even if itís only a few dollars over the minimum. It will add up and get you out of debt more quickly.

Curtail all unnecessary spending. Pack lunches instead of eating at restaurants. Borrow books and movies from the library. You may have to give up expensive hobbies - at least for a period of time. Consider giving up smoking and drinking to save money, and also because they are not healthy habits.

Consider putting all your change at the end of the day in a jar. Once a monthÖor every 3 months, etc., cash it in and add that amount to your savings.

Pay your utility bills on time to avoid costly late fees, penalties and reconnect charges.

Avoid bounced checks. Bank fees for bounced checks are often one of the most expensive.

Use coupons and watch for sales on items you normally use often.

Reduce energy consumption. Turn off lights, television and other appliances when not in use or when you leave the room. Use energy saving devices whenever possible.


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