Managing personal finances can be a daunting task, even for the most astute consumer. There seem to be more avenues to spend, save, and earn money now that ever before, and that makes it difficult to keep up with the day to day in money management. Adding to the mix of personal finance is the occasional, but inevitable, unexpected bill or purchase that always seems to throw a wrench into an otherwise well-thought-out financial plan. If you’re struggling to keep up with your personal finances or don’t know where to begin with money management, read on.

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A Budget!

Everyone hates the “b” word in personal financial management: budget. However, having an accurate accounting of what’s coming in versus what’s going out is a necessary component of handling your day to day finances in the most efficient way. Start by evaluating your current income, from all sources, and then make a list of your expenses. Your spending categories should include required payments, like debt, housing, utilities, and food, along with the more difficult categories of entertainment, travel, or personal care. Add these figures up and subtract them from your income to see where you should stand each month.

The good news is that budgets come in a variety of forms, from old-school spreadsheets to digital applications that link to your bank accounts. So, in theory, there is a solution for everyone. Find a budget tool that works best for you, and set a time each week or month to check your standing against your income and expense calculations.

Access to Loans

When cash flow is tight and savings is non-existent, many consumers are quick to panic. While having ample funds set aside for an emergency bill or large expense is helpful in life, it isn’t always a realistic goal. Understanding your access to affordable lending is one outlet for managing your personal finances when things don’t go as planned.

There are several places consumers can borrow money, from friends and family to traditional banks and credit unions. For those who have a vehicle they own outright, a title loan Sacramento from a local lender may be an option, especially when credit isn’t in top-notch shape. Credit cards and personal loans are also solutions for those who have strong credit and steady income, and home equity lending can be a lifesaver for those who own a home. Recognizing that there are several ways to borrow money in a pinch is beneficial in getting through a rough financial patch with less stress.

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The Right Savings Account

Once a budget is in a place, and there is an understanding of emergency borrowing options should the need arise, establishing the right savings account is a key part of healthy financial management. Savings accounts come in a variety of flavors, from high-yield, online accounts to more conventional savings vehicles from large financial institutions. To make the right decision, be sure to evaluate any transaction fees, account minimums, or other stipulations that may restrict the benefits you receive from a savings account. Once you’ve made your selection, aim to set aside between three and four months worth of expenses for a rainy day.

Personal financial management does not have to be an overwhelming task. Instead, it can be made easier with the right tools, education, and resources.