Monday, September 22, 2008

Time to Manage Your Money

We are living in a time of financial crisis. Corporations are laying off thousands of employees. According to the United States Department of Labor and Statistics, the number of unemployed persons rose by 592,000 to 9.4 million in August 2008. While banks and insurance companies like AIG are on the verge of bankruptcy. It seemed that no one knew exactly what to do. So the government is bailing them out. There are too many people talking about the crisis and too few that offer solutions for the common person. Panicking will only add to the confusion that is pervasive in the country. The financial crisis should force each family to review all personal bills, financial investments and family insurance plans. It’s time to manage your money.

A smart financial plan begins with your own research and study of your financial circumstances. If you have not heard from your retirement company give them a call. You want to maximize the amount of information that you use to make good financial decisions. Don’t feel pressured to move money around or to take your money out of the bank and hide it. Remember your money is insured up to $100,000 for each bank where your money is deposited. It is still a good idea to have a conversation with the bank manager about your money. Get everything in writing so that you know what your bank will and will not do if it fails.

This is one time when procrastinating does not work in your favor. Everyday you could be losing money. It’s time to have a plan of action that you will follow. Your job may offer a financial planning workshop. Make time to attend a session. Prepare a few questions prior to the meeting. Ask if there is some type of financial planning website that you can review.

Most adults have never attended any type of money management class. They do what their parents did with their money. Their bills were continuously behind and the house was loaded up with the things that they wanted. When a person who freely spends marries a thrifty person their can be conflicts over money. This type of conflict can strain any relationship. In fact financial management issues are one of the primary reasons that married couples break up. Agreeing to manage your money with some flexibility must be a priority. Each single person and married couple should have a financial plan.

One of the effective things that you can do at this time is cut back on unnecessary expenses. Eliminating fast food from your diet may be one way to save money. If you decide to make this change you will improve your health and financial situation at the same time. If you go to Dunkin Donuts in the morning, McDonald’s during the afternoon and to a restaurant at night you can easily spend $50.00 a day and by doing this several times each week you will spend hundreds of dollars. Taking control of your budget means looking at every aspect of your life and considering the changes you must make.

Your goal should be to pay off bills and cut up all credit cards. Did you know that if you are late paying one bill your interest rate on other credit cards can go up? Paying your bills on time is an important habit. When possible pay a little more money on each bill. Get a copy of your credit report and eliminate any statements that are not true. Remember that banks and credit unions will look at your credit report score when you want to make a loan or ask for a line of credit. Manage your money by putting yourself in a position to pay off your financial obligations.

We each have a free will to choose how to manage our individual financial obligations. Learn to be content with what you have rather than letting your friend influence your buying decisions. Purchasing a $4,000 flat screen television may not be in your budget. Remember you can enjoy freedom when you manage your money and plan to live a stress free life. While the country is in this financial crisis you can still have peace by following your financial plan. Dr. Stephen Jones is author of the "Ultimate Scholarship Guide "available at