(Previously posted via Tumblr July 7, 2015)
STEP 2: KNOW WHERE YOUR MONEY IS GOING.
Now that you’ve calculated your net worth, if you’re serious about being financially fit, you need to know how and where your money is flowing. Is your only stream of income your nine to five and/or six to ten, or do you have what I like to call “side hustles” (which really aren’t hustles at all,) just another name I call for a multiple stream(s) of income. It could be anything from selling items on eBay, homemade pastries (cakes, pies and such) or even preparing taxes during tax season. Multiple streams of income could be anything that makes you money. NOTE: If you have a hobby, FIND A WAY TO MAKE MONEY DOING IT!!!
Now back to the the money flow. Sit down and get comfortable, because you may be sitting for a while. Calculate your NET INCOME for the month. This should be fairly easy. Calculate ALL INCOME (including child support.) The only reason I would include child support is because obviously you are using that bi-weekly or monthly income on your child(ren) and not getting your hair/nails done and your weave tightened with Lil Timmy’s money. USE YOUR OWN MONEY FOR THAT. (I’ll talk about saving in a later posting.) Now that you have calculated how much you BRING HOME each month, let’s find out how much is actually GOING OUT each month. This may get a little tricky.
For many, this will require you to track your spending for an entire month. Of course we know the amounts of our mortgages/rent, utilities, household expenses, gas, child/daycare expenses, minimum amounts due on credit cards (hopefully,) etc., but what about the number of times you stopped at Starbucks on the way to work? Or the number of times you and your sorors went out to brunch last month, or those two pair of “Js” you just had to buy because “ya potnahs” got em too? You need to know where your money is going because you may find what’s going out far exceeds what’s coming in.
So how do you track your spending? You can do it the old-fashioned way and get a small notepad to write down amounts you’ve spent. If you’re not good at keeping up with receipts, there are phone apps you can download that can track those amounts for you (although it will take some effort on your part.) If you’re going to track spending, you have to track EVERYTHING from that 35cent pack of Juicy Fruit gum to the first round of drinks that was on you at Friday Night’s Happy Hour. To be ACCURATE, you’ve got to be HONEST. (There’s that word again.) I tracked my spending for one month and discovered I spent over $500 alone eating out. I had no clue I was spending that much money. When you’re single with no children, it’s easier to be frivolous with your money, but spending over $500 eating out is just TOO MUCH (for me anyway.) I put that in check REAL FAST. And to think I could have done so many other things with that money… LIKE LEFT IT IN THE BANK. Once you track your spending habits you will also notice patterns and will quickly be able to determine where you can begin to start “trimming the fat” which we’ll get into as the weeks progress.
So here’s your mission should you decide to take it…. TRACK YOUR SPENDING FOR ONE MONTH. Make a list of EVERYTHING that you’ve paid for during the month from household expenses to non-essential items to that $75 you loaned your Aunt that loves to play bingo Thursday nights: EVERY SINGLE THING. This is where exercising discipline starts. If you’re serious about becoming “Financially Fit,” you’ve got to start by knowing where your money is going. READY. SET. GO!!!!
I hope you benefitted from this posting and I do appreciate you reading it. Your commentary is also important so ALL FEEDBACK IS WELCOMED. If there is a specific topic you’d like me to talk about regarding Financial Fitness Bootcamp on this blog, feel free to shoot me an email at AndreaColeman@TheFinancialHack.com. Don’t miss a posting so be sure to follow me at http://www.thefinancialhack.com.
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~The Financial Hack ©2015