Finance planning has become a thing of the past for many youths. It's a dying art. It is easily the greatest stress and most common rut of young adults. Responsibility and control are essential in escaping and avoiding this rut.
In Brief: The first step is to end the cycle of poor spending habits. (A good 'Rule of Thumb' is that if its not worth purchasing the good with your cash then you better reevaluate.) The next step is to reduce your 'fixed' expenses. And the final step is to make more money.
Creating a working budget is key. It will help identify the causes of our financial weak areas; these may be obvious and subtle. For starters concentrate on the obvious. Poor budgeting of income and living beyond your means is the easiest way to fall into a deep rut, financially and perhaps in other fundamental ways as well.
I would like to emphasize the importance of knowing where your money is going. If you don't track and understand where your money is going then you run the risk of being taken advantage of. I struggled with this through college. The game changer for this personal rut came from monitoring my expenses and controlling most of my meaningless spending. Monitoring makes the big difference, it forces you to evaluate how you spend.***
Take my budget challenge! Below you'll find a link to Google Docs, they offer a free budget spreadsheet templet. It's exceptional. You will need to set up a gMail account if you don't have one. After your in, click "NEW" then pick "From template..." then in the "Search Templets" field at the center top of the page enter "Family Budget Planner". Open in and get started. (It took me roughly three minutes to input all my relevant data.) Adjust the templet as you see fit. Again, it's free and it's very comprehensive; thats why I like it.
Take the first step...
Google offers an array of useful tools and applications, I suggest checking them out. (A future blog may introduce and evaluate some of the more popular/useful applications.)
Any troubles, throw a comment down.
***A quick note: This theory of monitoring applies to dieting as well. If diet is a concern of yours then take this one week challenge, let me know the results: Carry a notepad and write down everything you eat, prior to eating it, for one week. The idea is that when you write down what you eat you are making a more conscience decision on what you consume. You actively evaluate your diet, which in turn causes you to make better decisions (at the least it may help point to some problem areas). America's best diet?