Getting to Know Your Money

Money management is not only important for the present, but also for the future. If you want to have a good relationship with money you will need to know something about yours: how much do you have to spend each month (i.e., take-home pay), and what do you spend it on?

Most people have little difficulty determining their monthly take-home pay; it is fairly constant month-to-month. However, if your monthly pay varies considerably from one month to the next (or from one season to the next), you will need to calculate the average monthly take-home pay over a 6-12 month period. The next step, determining your monthly spending, is usually more difficult for everyone.

Even if you are sure you know everything about your spending, I would suggest a little exercise that might give you additional insights. For one month, keep a spending log (electronically or on paper), and record all of your spending moments (yes, every penny). In your log record the date, a general description like “groceries” or “rent”, and the dollar amount. Don’t forget to record items for which you have setup automatic payments.

For this exercise it is more important to keep an accurate log than to worry about what you are spending your money on. In about a month I’ll suggest what you should do with your log.

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