Mommies are usually assigned the role of the housekeeper, and not the money manager. Working moms married to working husbands tend to let the men handle the household finances. This is unfortunate, because letting go of financial responsibility can lead to money mismanagement.
1. Take responsibility for your finances. The first step of attaining better money management is to be responsible for your money. Face your financial situation and resolve to do something about it. Do not let your husband make important financial decisions for the family without discussing it with you first. You have the right to know; even if you don’t have a job, what you do around the house has a value (your husband would pay a lot of money to hire a maid to do what you do for free). So whether you get a paycheck or not, assume the role of financial decision-maker too.
2. Prepare yourself for money management. Create a system that enables you to manage money easily. This includes creating a space at home where you will do financially-related activities: organizing financial records, collecting utility bills, calculating expenses, budgeting for the month, etc. Schedule these tasks. Set alarms so you will know if it’s time to do them. It’s important that you turn this into a habit because managing money well requires constant practice.
3. Set financial goals. Talk with your husband (if you have one) about your plans for the family. If you’re a single mom, think for yourself or ask your kids about their dreams. Are you longing for some things that require your budget? What do you need to do to make them happen? Will you need to get a second job? Can you cut some expenses to free up some budget? Translate your goals into doable steps. Don’t forget to specify when you need to accomplish them.
4. Reduce your debts. Never forget to include debt reduction in your plans, especially if you are dealing with credit card debt or other loans that will cause a lot of problems when you don’t pay them on time. Try not to borrow money unless you really need it and you are sure that you can return the amount.
5. Reduce your expenses. The less you spend, the more money you have. Record all of your expenses. Check if you are spending money on worthwhile things. Realize that cash spent on low-value items (vices, accessories, and restaurant food, for example) are cash withheld from high-value things (insurance premiums, educational plan payments, and medical bills). Remember what’s important to your family and make your budget reflect that.
6. Increase your savings. Set aside enough money for rainy days: insurance, emergency funds (for hospital payments and job loss), etc. Consider investing in something; this will allow your financial worth to grow considerably.
7. Be financially intelligent. The more that you know about finances, the better you will be able to handle money. Keep on researching and act upon what you discover. You will notice improvements in your financial conditions soon enough.
Update for 2017: I have gotten some inquiries from some of my readers from the United States about how they can be financially intelligent and save money. Though I am by no means an expert on U.S. student loans, I have read some about them on some of my fellow personal finance bloggers’ websites. I’ve learned that you should always use government student loans first. After that, you should use private student loans second. This is because private student loans have higher interest rates and less benefits than government loans.
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