Our prior article, 5 Steps To Be Your Own Mogul – Part 1, covers the first three steps to manage your finances like a business. Below we present the final two steps.
If you have performed the budget exercise and broken your expenses out into categories, you can start to highlight areas where you can improve. The idea here is to shift the negative spending into a comfortable routine that focuses more on building savings and trimming expenses for the long haul. You can do it quite easily without weekly envelopes of rationed money or other personal finance gimmicks that rarely work in the long term.Here are some suggestions for improving your financial forecast in painless and satisfying ways:
- Calculate your bottom line. Simply take your after-tax income and subtract from it all your required expenses. There should be a reasonable amount of money left over that can be properly redirected to healthcare, savings and retirement planning.
- Does your employer offer a 401(k) savings plan? Are you contributing after-tax income up to any corporate match? This is a huge windfall opportunity for people who have trouble saving money. The passive savings of having funds set aside for you is really too good to pass up.
- Seek the services of a professional Certified Public Accountant (CPA) at least once to prepare your taxes.Most consumers miss out on critical tax savings options because they simply take the quick-filing route when other options may exist.
- Kick negative spending to the curb. Are you working an extra job that is costing you more than you are making? Long commutes, expensive business attire and wear and tear on your automobile may actually be taking money out of your pocket despite your best efforts to make more income in the new gig economy.
- Always make a contribution to a savings, retirement or investment plan each month, even if the figure in question is less than $100. Emergency cash is just that – savings for the rough times and if you don't have any, you may find yourself out-of-business.
- Cash deficit at month's end? Wean yourself from credit. Financially secure individuals can afford the risk of long-term, interest-bearing credit but you simply cannot. This includes payday cash advance loans, automatic overdraft coverage and anything that carries interest against the debt that you owe.
- Set reasonable goals. "Replace aging car with dependable pre-owned car" is considered a reasonable goal. "Save $45,000 for a blow-out honeymoon trip to Europe" is perhaps the worst kind of goal to set because it focuses more on the want aspect instead of the need aspect for a safe mode of transportation. Goals can also be small and powerful like "Open a savings account" or "Stop using the payday loan cash advance service".
5. Surround Yourself with the Best Business Partners you can Find
Are your credit card and loan interest rates – in business terms, your cost of borrowing – unusually high? You must improve your credit profile before taking on any strategic debt. Review your credit report to find out why you don't qualify for better interest rates. By improving your credit score before taking on debt, you can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars in interest payments.
Online calculators are available to help you analyze borrowing costs on any kind of loan or revolving accounts like your credit cards. Use them to run best, worst, and most likely scenarios – just as an industry CFO would do when assessing borrowing options and advising where and when to invest.
Don't forget to revisit the financial terms for all your utility, communication and savings plans. There is always a distinct possibility that you can find better terms elsewhere or through negotiation conversations.Remember: If you aren't on sound financial footings with your creditors, you cannot make demands for better rates. Those are reserved for consumers with high net worth and high credit scores.You can check your credit score and read your credit report for free within minutes by joining MoneyTips.
Managing your personal finances can be incredibly empowering. Taking the first few steps to objectively view your total financial picture can often be difficult. Just remember – this is your money, and no one should care about it more than you do.