Make a Money Date
One of the secrets to my success is being a great steward of money. I have often said that no one can care for your money or track it as well as you can. But being a good money manager/tracker doesn't happen by accident; the key is to have the personal self-discipline needed to track your money every single month.
That's right, make a standing money date with yourself! Choose a day of the month, such as the first Monday of the month, add it to your calendar, make it a recurring appointment, and block out that time! Treat yourself to a nice coffee, light some candles, turn on some music and try to make it a special occasion so you can get down to business.
Below are the things that I do on my money date every month:
The first thing you must manage is the collection of the receipts you have from anything you have spent money on. Money tracking starts at the point of sale, not on your money date. I automatically separate all my receipts in my wallet after each transaction. I don't wait until my money date to sort them and this pre-filing process makes it very easy. I have sections in my wallet for my receipts labelled for each credit card or bank debit card that I use and I separate them by personal and business. If you can't find a receipt track it down - yes, really! Do it now, because it will be that much harder later.
I begin my money date by gathering my bank statements (personal and business) for the month and any credit card statements that I have. I go through every (yes every) line item expense, find the corresponding receipt, and attach an envelope with those to every bank statement and credit card statement. All receipts as well as any deposit stubs that apply to that statement go inside the envelope. No sorting receipts for me at the end of the year! My receipts, all expenses and deposits are reconciled every month.
I then go through every bank statement and credit card and highlight in pink any expense that I either regretted, didn't need or need to learn a lesson from. For example, I had no idea one month that the anti-virus software I had purchased was actually twice as expensive as I thought it was. I had signed up for the software without realizing the inexpensive fee I thought I was paying was just an initial offer and that all future months would be full price. I also reconcile all expenses and deposits to my budget (yes, I live by a budget) so I have a clear idea of where my money went that month.
Most of my bills are paid automatically every month through my bank's bill pay so that saves me a lot of time and does much of the work for me. I still have to make sure that all the payments were sent when they were supposed to be (nothing is perfect and errors can occur) and also take care of any bills that I need to pay that are not ongoing or set up on bill pay at that time.
Use a Future Value Calculator
The favorite part of my money management process is to update my Future Value Calculator. I update the balances on any mortgages and investments monthly and I update property values every six months. This is such a rewarding way to keep my eye on the big picture!
Involve Your Spouse/Partner
Often in relationships one person seems to be the money person and the other person tends to either be tuned out by choice or one person likes to have control. However, the best way to manage money in a relationship is for both partners to be involved. For example, while there are many parts of money tracking that my husband doesn't do, he does work with me to match receipts, reconcile our statements, and assist me in filing any paid bills I have to file. I also recommend both partners review the Future Value Calculator monthly. When both parties know what is happening with the money both parties are working towards tracking it and respecting it.
This is by far one of the hardest things to do at the end of the year. It is daunting and overwhelming. However, when you file monthly you can keep the beginning of year time-crunch down.
If you want a healthy, strong respectful relationship with money, the key is to invest time into your money tracking and management. Make a money date with yourself and enjoy the confidence that having control over your money will bring you.
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By Denise Lones CSP, M.I.R.M., CDEI - The founding partner of The Lones Group, Denise Lones, brings nearly three decades of experience in the real estate industry. With agent/broker coaching, expertise in branding, lead generation, strategic marketing, business analysis, new home project planning, product development, Denise is nationally recognized as the source for all things real estate. With a passion for improvement, Denise has helped thousands of real estate agents, brokers, and managers build their business to unprecedented levels of success, while helping them maintain balance and quality of life.