So…it’s the final week of Financial Literacy Month with the focus “Take Control of Your Finances”. Arguably, this is the most important area of financial literacy, depending upon your perspective.
To take control of your finances sounds easy enough to do; almost like the Nike tag, “Just do it”. However, it’s not like it at all. Particularly so if you are not financially aware or if you feel the task makes you feel overwhelmed.
While Credit Counselling Service agencies can’t make “taking control” easy for everyone, we can make it simplier. How? By asking you to absorb the task not in mounds, but in bite-sized morsels.
As you take control of your finances remember:
You must reflect upon ALL your assets, income, expenses, liabilities, and debt. In simple terms, you might consider these five categories to each be “mouthfuls”, far too great to swallow at once; however, if you break each mouthful into bite-sized pieces, then sure enough over time, you will swallow the whole thing.
Think about your assets for example. When looking here, ask yourself about your world and whether it’s adequately protected. Your assets are best described as your “stuff”; the things around you large and small. It’s what you’ve managed to accumulate over the years. Consider the amount of insurance you carry and whether you have an inventory or photographic proof of ownership. This is especially so for big ticket items, collectibles, jewellery, and art. This reflective time should also see you look at your will, life and health insurance, and your Advanced Healthcare Directive. Your individual situation will dictate exactly how many “morsels” you will have to eventually swallow and what’s most important is that you consider them all.
Gross Income vs Net Income
When it comes to income, make sure you understand your gross income but be sure to know your take-home pay; after all, take-home pay is your true income – the amount with which you provide for your loved ones and yourself. Within the category of “Income” you also craft your households operating budget, along with a tracking system to tell you how you are doing each month. As you grow your budget, don’t forget to include occasional expenses – things like the replacement of furniture and appliances, along with annual expenses like vacations and Christmas, or any religious or cultural event in which you partake.
By now, you should be beginning to observe how one aspect of your household’s financial operation flows into another. You see, as you explore and examine a budget, you’ve moved onto the next area of consideration – all your expenses.
Eventually you look critically at liability and debt, seeking ways to minimize dependence along with cutting the cost of borrowing.
When it comes to managing money, remember to take time, make time, or both. A critical line in any household budget is one dedicated to saving. Don’t forget to include it! Here is a free budgeting worksheet to help you get started.
Be ready for shockers as well as positive findings. As you move along the process, you’ll discover that you’re also creating work for yourself and possibly for other members in your family.
In the end, several weeks or months after you have started, you will have a financial plan and inventory document; this, along with some discipline and regular attention, will put you in charge of your financial life.
Submitted by: Al Antle, Credit Counselling Services of NL (CCSNL)