There are many habits that keep us from building wealth and eliminating debt. In order to conquer these negative money habits, we must build positive habits.
There are a few habits that are almost essential to the management of money:
1. Balancing your checkbook.
This is the most basic thing you can do with your finances. Everyone should be balancing their checkbook. But you can take it up a notch by not just balancing, but managing your account.
If you are in the habit of writing everything down, good for you. But this is no substitute for balancing your account. People miss things. There are receipts that we loose and time that we don't have.
My husband and I are not good at writing things down as they happen. To counter this, we have a receipt box near our front door. When you walk in, you empty all of your receipts and put your checkbook in the box. Twice a week (or more frequently) I sit down and write everything down. AND I balance our account.
This is easily done with online checking account statements. If money is tight, I might check the account every day - just to stay on top of it.
Balancing your account once a week, at the least, helps you catch mistakes easily. It is easier to look at two dozen transactions and find a mathematical mistake than it is to look at six months of transactions.
The upside - I promise that you will save time and stress by balancing more often.
2. Budgeting is essential.
I know this because we are the worst at having a budget that we fall off of every now and then. Things are perfect when we budget. When we don't stick with the budget, we can't figure out how we spent all of our money.
Like balancing your checking account, a budget must be looked at frequently. At least once a week will keep it fresh in your mind. The best method for my family seems to be the pay the bills and savings accounts first. Then we take a portion of what is left over for our groceries, gasoline and general needs and wants. The extra goes to paying off debts (mortgage and auto). What we take for spending money is in cash. I never go into a store with my ATM/debit card or checkbook. If I have only cash, I won't be tempted to just write a check and save the cash for later.
3. Pay off the debt.
This too is a habit. It comes also is used to defeat the habits that got you in debt in the first place. Once you start seeing your debts eliminated, you will become addicted. Get those debts paid off and don't accrue new debts.
4. Save, save, save.
Saving is the most rewarding habit of all. There is nothing like seeing your dollar turn into thousands over time. Play around with a few savings calculators on the internet and see how you can save a little for a big return in the future.
The key is asking yourself, what is more important to me: that new sweater that I charge or the ability to retire early. Think about it. What you are charging now and not saving could mean that you have to work five to ten more years. That's a long time for those sweaters that you won't even have anymore.
Habits take a while to establish. You simply have to stay on top of them. Everything financial should be reviewed weekly. Keep it on the top of your agenda. Keep your budget in your mind. Review your checking regularly - it's the best way to know how much money you do or do not have.
Martin Lukac represents http://www.RateEmpire.com and http://www.1AmericanFinancial.com , a finance web-company specializing in real estate and mortgage rates. We specialize in daily updates, mortgage news, rate predictions, mortgage rates and more. Find low home loan mortgage interest rates from hundreds of mortgage companies!