Over the years I have heard many people say that they aren’t good with numbers–some are very willing to socially “advertise” being math illiterate, almost as if they were proud of it, but that is another story–and therefore don’t manage money very well. My response is that math expertise has little to do with it; if you can push the correct buttons (i.e., 0-9, +, -, and =) on a cheap calculator, you have all the math skills you need for basic money management.
With the math excuse out of the way, some will exclaim that they don’t have any idea about how to get started. Well, start with a pen and some blank sheets of paper, and then complete the following:
Income–list the sources of all money, including dollar amounts, you receive in a typical month.
Debts–list everybody that you owe. Include the total amounts currently owed, minimum monthly payments, and interest rates.
Expenses–list all expenses, including dollar amounts, you have in a typical month.
Assets–list everything you own. For each item, include an estimate of what it is worth (fair market value) to someone else. That is, how much could you sell it for today. (Note that what you could sell an item for today has nothing to do with whether or not you still owe on it. Therefore, for items you own that you are still paying for, such as a car, ignore what is still owed when deciding what it is worth to someone else.)
Financial First ”Aiders” (may my high school English teacher forgive me) who help themselves or others complete the above exercise will have an IDEA of how to get started on better money management.