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Managing Daily Finances

When you see the phrase "financial planning," it's easy to first visualize long-range plans and future earnings, mapping out your financial road in terms of miles, not steps. But money management isn't just about dealing with what's coming up, it's also about controlling finances every day. Learning to recognize where your money is going each day can help you reach goals and smooth your financial path.

Take a Closer Look

Did you start the day with a $20 bill and come home with mere pocket change? You're not alone. It's easy to lose track of money when it's handed out in small portions, like a few dollars for coffee, a few more for lunch, and then a few more for parking or an afternoon treat. Staying aware of these little necessities and taking a good look at where your money is going will help boost you up to the management level.

Make It Simple

There are many ways to turn daily financial organization from a time-consuming management headache into a more streamlined, and even pleasant, process. Here are some ideas to help you get started:

  • Consolidate your accounts. Balancing brokerage and IRA statements with savings and checking account details can mean a pile of paper that seems insurmountable. Putting all your nest eggs in one basket can significantly reduce the hassle of managing multiple accounts from different banks and brokers.

  • Use online banking. Need to check your balance from work? Want to make a quick transfer between accounts but don't have time to stop at the bank or ATM? Online banking allows you to manage banking and investments from anywhere, anytime. You can also review recent ATM and debit card transactions instantly to see if you need to be thriftier with your plastic cash.

  • Pay bills electronically. Through online banking, you can make credit card, utility, and mortgage payments--even some landlords will accept rent electronically. Recurring payments can be scheduled for automatic deduction from your account, making late fees a distant memory. And the money you save on postage can really add up over the course of a year.

  • Request a change in billing cycles. If your major bills come due at different times, you can request a change in the billing cycles. This will enable you to set aside a time each month to review and pay your bills.

Keep on Track

After factoring in all sources of income and accounting for large and small expenses, construct a budget you can live with. Being able to easily review your financial picture will put you in control and controlling expenses is the key to staying within a budget.

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