How to manage your finances

The task of managing your money and balancing your budget is a great one. Here's a list of advice items to help you.

l Write down recurring expenses such as rent or bond, electricity, water or telephone accounts and car payments so you know what your fixed costs are every month.

l Keep all your accounts in a central place so that they are not misplaced. Creditors do not care if your account got lost, they want their money by the due date.

l Pay accounts on time. Paying late in most cases means paying interest.

l Write down your frivolous expenses (that ring you just had to have) or give yourself a manageable fixed weekly budget and stick to it.

This will help you see what you spend your money on and perhaps when you see how much you spend, you will curb your spur-of-the-moment purchases. If you are going to have a budget that works, it's better if you draw cash so you aren't tempted to spend more.

l Don't be afraid or shy to use coupons or go to discount stores. Try it for a month and then compare your discount food bill to your normal food bill. Stores where you can buy in bulk are great, but make sure you really will eat 2kg of peanut butter before it goes bad.

l Start saving your receipts from restaurants and bars. Going out to eat and drink is wonderful, but it adds up very quickly financially (and perhaps around your waistline).

l Check your subscriptions. Are you getting magazines that go straight from the mailbox to the bin? If yes, stop that. Magazine subscriptions can run up into hundreds of rands a year per subscription.

l Get involved with investing, but do so wisely. Pay attention to those low risk, but consistent pay off investments too. Only invest what you can afford to lose.

l Insurance. Find the balance. Keep in mind that an accident can financially ruin you, but so could paying thousands of rands a month in insurance costs. Decide the balance of coverage you want to peace of mind, but know that it hits your pocket book differently.

l See your savings account as a haven, something that you must nourish (deposit) but not manhandle too often (withdrawal). Make sure that "emergency" you are dipping into is really important.

l Don't let your spending budget match your income. Know that unexpected costs and emergencies happen. Your car could break down or you could slip and break your leg. Yes, insurance will often take care of this, eventually. In the short-term. You may need to come up with some money. If you have followed the tip to make your savings a haven, this will not be a problem. This cannot always happen, but make sure to at least leave yourself at least a few hundred rands (or a percentage of your income) as a cushion to help with these unexpected items.

l Plan for larger purchases. Do not buy expensive things on the spur of the moment as you may end up having to either take it back or not pay another account.

If you want a flat screen TV, don't just run out and buy it. Shop around and if it is something you really want, save a certain amount from your salary to cover the cost. The amount held really depends on your income, time line for purchase and your desire to be sitting in front of that TV. - essortment