These are a great set of tips to keep in mind, especially this challenging economic environment. These are skills we all can learn and adopt through practice. The purpose of this blog is to provide financial education; I believe this article from Zen Habits, done by J.D. Roth from Get Rich Slowly, has a lot of great material on it.
I will share with you some of my takes on the 10 skills that are stated in the article.
1. Set up a budget - Know what your fixed expenses are and know what are not. Set up how much you would like to spend on various things and stick to it.
2. Track your spending - I actually use Mint.com and MS Money. They are both great applications and really allow you to see where your money is being spent. I also recently tried Quicken Online since it somehow integrates with Turbotax, which is what I use to file taxes. The point is not what you use, but that you actually start tracking where your money goes. Even a simple Excel sheet can work. Knowing where your money is going is the first step in understanding your finances and taking control of it. Just do it.
3. Check your credit report - Your credit score is very valuable and should be kept in order. In the long run, having great credit can be very beneficial and save you a lot of money from lower interest rates in mortgages to cheaper insurance. Take care of your credit and it will take care of you.
4. Stop Junk Mail - Stop them or throw them out. Don't even look at them. They are meant to tempt you into getting things you do not need.
5. Optimize your bank accounts - Be sure that your money is in high yield savings accounts. I recommend ING Direct. Great online high yield savings account.
6. Open an investment account - It is never too early to start investing. Utilize your employers 401k or 403b and also consider opening a Roth IRA. Read the article to see the benefits. I opened my Roth IRA through Sharebuilder, which is where I do my investments as well.
7. Call around for better deals - Check around for better insurance rates, better credit cards etc.
8. Educate yourself - Learn as much as you can about finances. See link below for great recommendations.
9. Set financial goals - Set some short-term financial goals and some long-term financial goals. For example, I intend to put $5000 in my Roth IRA account by the end of July and plan to increase my investment portfolio by $100,000 in 5 years.
10. Create a money file - Have a secure place to keep all your financial data; passwords, account numbers etc.