In this day and age monetary awareness is more important than ever. The economy is unpredictable, jobs are much harder to come by and less stable, and we have more things than ever before begging for our money. Being mindful of your money does not mean hoarding it, but it is important to be conscientious of why and how, as well as how often, you are spending your money.
Many people think they are short on cash or simply not making enough money when, really, they aren't managing their money well. I have a few friends who claim they don't have enough money and yet they spend $6 on a single cup of coffee every morning when a pot costs less than a dollar. According to Nerdwallet.com, the average credit card holds $15,863 in debt, which wouldn't seem all that bad until you stop to consider that many people hold multiple credit cards. The truth is, just by eliminating bad habits you will see your wallet begin to get bigger.
1. Not being conscious of your transactions
People buy things every day. When people buy small things they don't view them as a bank breaker. But when those small purchases become multiple purchases, the bank takes a bigger hit than many realize. By paying close attention to your spending you can see exactly where your money is going and how much you are spending. Mint.com is a fantastic free app that categorizes all your transactions, allowing you to securely manage your money and know exactly where it's going.
2. Not establishing budgets
I say "budgets" because having individual budgets for things can allow you to spend your money more wisely. One big budget enables you to purchase whatever you want as long as it doesn't reach a certain limit. Smaller individual budgets enable you to break down that big goal, focusing on establishing necessities like rent, groceries, car payments, etc., and leaving a designated amount of money for non-necessity spending. Once again, Mint.com is a great way to manage this.
3. Using credit cards you can't afford
The need for short-term cash can be a great one. Having quick money is a privilege that many people take advantage of, but it comes back to bite them. Many people think of credit cards as quick money they have, when it is really someone else's money (a credit card company's) they will soon need to pay back. The debt can rack up more quickly than many realize and it could cause them severe financial issues later.
Spending money right as you get it has obvious repercussions, but this applies to two types of saving: long- and short-term. Saving for the long-term means putting away a specific amount of your income in order to save up a large amount. This means saving for a house, a car, your future children's college funds, or when life happens. Short-term saving means managing your budgets and adding to that long-term piggy bank. It also means taking the excess money from your paycheck that doesn't go into those funds and, instead of using it on immediate wants, saving it for a time when you may want something a little more pricey.
5. Impulse Spending
We have all done it. Buying a new wardrobe because you were having a bad week and wanted to feel better, splurging on a new computer when the one you have works just as well, or a massive purchase, like buying a new car because your friend got a new one. People have moments of impulse spending and not all are bad, but if you need to be money conscious, multiple instances of impulse spending can accumulate and leave you relying on pennies. Make money decisions the way you would make other decisions: logically and without emotion.
With our current economy and job markets, being able to effectively manage your budget is a much needed skill. Millennials need these skills even more because they have the largest amounts of debt starting out, due to school loans and tuition payments. A recent Wells Fargo survey found that 4 out of 10 millennials are overwhelmed with student loan debt. When you have loans that need to be paid back each month, ensuring that you are capable of doing so is essential. Keeping an eye on your transactions, watching budgets and other small actions can end up saving you big. Being able to manage your money can help you to be financially prepared for family, relationships, and children.