I think the age group with the worst money management skills are people in their twenties and early thirties. Besides being financially illiterate, part of what contributes to this is that it’s (hopefully) the first time in your life you’re making real money but you don’t yet have the larger commitments of a house, kids, or big investments. This can lead to the feeling that we have more money than we really do.
Factor in enormous amounts of educational and personal debt and that we tend to live in more urban areas (i.e. higher cost of living), and it leaves you with almost nothing at the end of the month – or worse, with less than you started. I see it around me everyday in my friends and, yes, myself. I know I definitely got the spending gene. Reigning it in is a constant battle.
I’m really not a fan of draconian budgets that only provide for the basics in life because it’s a miserable way to live for a long period of time and it t makes a plan nearly impossible to stick to. It’s like an all-broccoli diet you ditch after a day-and-a-half because it’s too hard. So along with my NMD cohorts and friends, I’ve compiled a list of easy tips to cut your monthly spending and leave you with more to put toward your future (and by “future” I do not mean the new Celine Luggage Tote).
One day I’ll sit my children down around the fire and tell them about the olden days before the internet, when you had to go to the bank to withdraw or deposit money and keep track of your balance on a funny little thing called a “register.” And yes, we used to pay with things with dirty little pieces of paper called “cash” – not debit cards.
Even now you might wonder why you need to balance your checkbook and keep a register when you can access this online or from your phone. There’s a few reasons you should have this skill. First, even banks make mistakes. Wait, let me rephrase that: especially banks make mistakes. If you keep your own records, while it’s not totally solid or legal proof of your case, it will help you more quickly pinpoint the problem if something goes wrong. Second, most banks have delays of several business days until credit and debit transactions are posted, so when you check your balance, you may think it reflects purchases you’ve already made when it doesn’t. And finally, if you record your spending, you’re less likely to make unnecessary spending and you’ll have a better idea where your money goes when you’re ready to put together a realistic budget.
I learned this lesson the hard way a few years ago when I got lazy and just checked by available balance occasionally withouth keeping tabs on my own. I overdrafted myself because I didn’t notice a paycheck bounced when my company switched payroll accounts. Had I been keeping track like I should have, I would have noticed the mistake earlier and I wouldn’t have incurred so many fees.