Assessing How You Manage Money

Learn how to manage money and get managing money tips in this free lesson.

Introduction

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Recognize how to manage money
  • Judge if it's time to change the way you manage money
  • Identify steps you can take to better manage money
  • Set financial goals and objectives

How do you manage money?

man and woman paying bills at coffee table

Every day you make choices about how, where, and when you will spend your money. These choices can have a significant affect on your financial life. Do you spend a lot of money on credit card debt each month? Do you save money regularly? Do you treat yourself to things after a rough week at work?

To get an idea of how you relate to money, take our Money Quiz. Choose the answer which most applies to you.

Where does your money go?

If you don't keep track of your expenses, you don't know how you spend your money. When you know where your money goes, you feel more in control. Take time to think about your spending. Ask yourself:

hand full of dollars

Read on to find out how you might change the way you manage your money.

Changing the way you spend money

man looking over his bills in his den

When assessing how you manage your money, you might want to change your spending and saving habits. Being able to better manage your money will help you prepare for the future.

Bad money management habits can sometimes be difficult to break. To tackle an undesirable habit, consider the following.

Eight steps to better money management

As you work toward managing your money more effectively, keep these steps in mind.

cash

1. Plan ahead. Write down your goals and objectives. It's important to be realistic. Will you more likely be able to afford a $200,000 house or one that costs $100,000 or less? Review your goals and objectives regularly to see if you are on track.


2. Create a budget. Create a plan on how you will spend and save money. Update it regularly, and evaluate your goals. Think about your financial situation, where you need to be, and determine how you're going to get there. (You'll learn more about creating a budget in the next lesson.)


3. Keep good records. It's difficult to get your finances under control if you don't understand the basics of good recordkeeping. Keeping track of your bills, checks, and other financial transactions is important.


4. Stay insured. Purchase insurance to avoid being hit with a financial loss due to accident or illness. It's an important part of your financial plan.


5. Stay focused. You'll need patience and discipline to begin your financial plan and to follow it through. Don't be tempted to overspend.


6. Save more. It's important to save money regularly so you can use it in the future. Begin by faithfully saving a small amount. If you are able to save enough money, you will be able to put some into investments, use it in emergencies, or use it to reach your goals.


7. Educate yourself. No one can protect you from your own bad judgment. Get the information you need to avoid financial trouble, and make thoughtful decisions that can improve your financial security.


8. Take time. Set aside time each month to work on your money management. Pick a time that works for you, such as early in the morning when everyone else is asleep or quiet time at night. You will find that it's time well spent.

Setting goals

Goal setting is an important part of success, whether you're aspiring to reach objectives in school, your career, or your personal life. Aim too high, and you may get frustrated and give up; aim too low, and you might not push yourself to reach your full potential.

computer screen showing chart

Think about your financial goals and how you plan to reach them.

Don't worry. You may not have all the answers now. The lessons in this course can help you clearly define your financial goals and help you take steps to achieve them.

To help you get started, use our Goals Worksheet.