Money

Managing life by handling money wisely.

Credit Card Basics

People can have very strong opinions about credit cards. Financial guru Dave Ramsey is beloved by many people but his strict advice about credit cards is to cut them up, pay them off, and close them. However, credit cards are a financial tool just like anything else. They can be a pitfall if you don’t have the self-control to use them well, but they can also benefit you with financial flexibility and rewards like cashback. Continue reading →

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Balancing a Check Register

Keeping a check register is the first step. You can find the article about setting up a check register here. The second step is balancing it to your bank statements. This step is important because it verifies that your check register has an accurate available balance. You can balance using your online transaction history but I find it is easier to keep track of by using monthly statements (you may want to print these from your computer if you get e-statements so that you can write on it).

What You Will Need

  • Your check register
  • Your bank statement
  • A pencil and eraser

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How to Keep a Check Register

I do not think keeping a check register is necessary for everyone these days. Technology makes it easy to quickly check our bank account balance and see what transactions have cleared. For many people, that is enough.  However, in my banking career I saw many people who would benefit from a deeper understanding of their bank account balance. The people this would most benefit are those who have little or no ‘cushion’ in their bank account and those who like to write physical checks.

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Free Budget Spreadsheet

There are many different budgeting tools you can use. Some popular ones are Quicken, YNAB (You Need a Budget), and Mint. These are good programs and if they work for you, great. I don’t use them for my budgeting because I want to decide how my money is organized instead of following someone else’s system. This prompted me to make my own Excel spreadsheet, which I have been using for the last six years.

Pros Cons
Complete control Manual input
Increased account security Fewer fancy graphics
Review every transaction Requires some Excel knowledge

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Why A Budget is LESS Stress

There are a lot of reasons people don’t budget. At first glance, it seems easier not to. Budgeting may seem time-consuming or restrictive. Worse, you may be afraid of what you’ll find out about your finances if you do start to budget. Ignorance is bliss, isn’t it? But I know what that vague, guilty feeling is like when you think you might have splurged on something you shouldn’t have. Budgeting doesn’t mean that you can’t spend money on that new gadget – it means that you control your money instead of your money controlling you. Continue reading →

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