Managing your finances is no easy feat, especially when you’re feeling the pinch. Add a personal loan to the mix and you can start to feel overwhelmed in no time flat. The thing about personal loans is that they can actually be a tool for better managing your money when times get a little tough. Here are some key tips for keeping track of your finances and loans the smart way.
Sort out the basics
How big of a personal loan have you taken out, and how quickly will you be able to repay it? Use one of many independent, online personal loan calculators to figure out how best to manage your loan repayments. Also remember to check the interest rate, fees and charges so you know exactly what you’re in for.
Identify what you can cut down on
Taking out a personal loan generally means that your spending habits could use an overhaul. This will involve taking a good, honest look at any non-essential spending and deciding what you can go without. It can be surprisingly easy to find a few small expenses that can be cut down significantly, such as brining your lunch from home, or taking public transport to work instead of driving, even if it is only a few days each week.
Write up a budget…and stick to it
Devising a budget is a great way to get back in control of your finances, and will also give you a clear picture of how much you need to spend, and on what. It may sound a little boring, but spending just a few hours going through your finances can be illuminating, and give you a whole new perspective.
Pay with cash
Also a great way to stick to your budget, paying with cash means seeing exactly where each of your dollars go. This may not sound significant, but cash is a lot harder to part with than just swiping your debit or credit card. Give it a try for any non-essential purchases you make during the week, and see how you feel (and how much you’ve saved) at the end of it.
Keep your receipts
Paying with cash will force you to see how much money you are spending, but keeping your receipts means everything is on record for your later perusal. This can be a financial slap in the face at first, but following your own paper trail can eventually lead to some well-needed budget reconsiderations.
Make a shopping list
It’s all too easy to wind up at the checkout with far more than you’ve bargained for…literally. To simplify your grocery shopping experience, make a list of everything you need before leaving the house, and be strict with both your kids and yourself about sticking to it. To soften the disciplinarian blow a little, you can even add an additional ten or twenty dollars to your shopping budget for unplanned extras such as that magazine or chocolate bar.
Managing your finances and personal loans can be difficult at times, and it can easily start to feel as though getting out of debt is outside your reach. But just making a few small, consistent changes to your lifestyle and keeping track of your loans, you can start to put some distance between yourself and any debts or bad credit ratings. Remember that making these changes is worth the effort, and will put you in a better position for the future.