Money can be a huge source of stress.
It doesn't matter what your income is, or how much you've saved.
It doesn't matter if you are 22 and starting a career, or if you are 70 and retired.
If you do not control your money, it will control you. Here's how to gain more control.
Step #1: Understand where your money is going
Don't worry, I'm not pushing you to create a detailed budget, with strict categories and spending limits.
But what I am suggesting is to start gaining awareness.
When a new client decides to work with me, at some point, we have to discuss two fundamental questions:
How much do you make?
How much do you spend (and on what)?
Less than 10% of people we talk to can confidently answer both of those questions.
If you already know the answers to both of those questions, then great! You've taken the first step towards controlling your money.
If you do not know, then it's clear where we need to start. The good news is with technology, it's really simple. Here are two websites to get you started (you only need to choose one):
Mint.com: Mint was one of the originals in the online money tracking space. You simply link your financial accounts using their secure system, Mint imports your transactions, and then you can easily categorize. It will even begin to offer suggestions and automatically assign once it learns your tendencies.
Pocketguard.com: Similar to Mint, you link financial accounts to Pocketguard and it automatically imports transactions. Pocketguard takes it a step further though and does a great job of encouraging you to save each month
The Old Fashioned Way: Of course Excel always works too. Download your transactions (credit card and bank accounts) and start categorizing them yourself.
Don't stress! Remember, the goal is simply awareness.
If you haven't done this before, I will guarantee you will be surprised by how much you spend in some categories, and how little you spend in others.
Give it a try and let me know your biggest takeaways!
Also, if you have an app that has helped you gain awareness of where your money is going, feel free to share that too.