THE FOUR A’S

Proper cash management systems revolve around four critical components, often referred to as the Four A’s.

 

Accounting
Gathering relevant financial documents together, keeping them close by, and staying up on income and expenses through an organized, systematic format, such as a spread sheet, can keep things clear.

 

Analysis

Reviewing your financial situation once the full picture
is clear with all income and expenses can result in more
surplus and less shortfalls. Seeing the whole picture
can help reduce expenses, and any extra funds can be
used to pay down debt or investments.

 

Allocation

One of the most important factors is to distribute
income according to financial commitments and
priorities, distinguishing between real needs and
wants, and ultimately reducing expenses by reducing
discretionary spending.

 

Adjustment

A rigid budget is hard to follow, and likely to fail.
Making periodic changes when necessary will help to
keep things on track.

WAYS TO SAVE

Every step, big or small, can make a huge impact on our savings, so try to spend your money on items that really matters–the things that bring our families happiness, and allow us to concentrate on reaching our goals.  Here are some other ways to save:
Don’t go grocery shopping when you are hungry, and always stick to a shopping list. We spend as much as 40% more when we don’t have a list or shop when we are hungry.
Limit daily coffee, soda, energy drink, and snack purchases. On average, we spend over $1,000 annually on coffee and sodas. Consider using refill offers.
Don’t eat out as much. On average we spend over $50 a week eating lunch out which can equate to as much as $2,700 a year.
Paying for cable television and expensive movie packages costs an average of $60 per month.
Researching different cell phone options and carrier offers can save money. On average, we spend over $73 per month on cellular. Verizon is the most costly, with an average of over $140.
Curb the desire to buy the newest cellphone or latest technology.
Pay attention to banking fees. Often times these are overlooked on statements.
Manage your air conditioning and heating bill. Some states like Arizona are 6% higher than the national average. Fans, blinds, programmable thermostats, an energy audit, and efficient light bulbs are a few ideas for reducing cost.
Servicing your car regularly with oil changes, air filter replacement, proper tire inflation, flushing fluids, and keeping it clean can save hundreds of dollars annually.
Raising your car insurance deductible from $100 to $1,000 instantly saves money.
Using coupons, looking for sales, shopping for deals, and scouring the Internet for savings can save a lot of money.

Don’t pay full price for clothing. Look for sales or gently used items.
Reduce spending money on pricey personal care products or cleaning products. On average, a family of 4 spends almost $800 per year on cleaning supplies.
Join a shaver club. Don’t use disposable razors. Using a straight razor, or a low cost alternative could save hundreds of dollars per year.
Buy in bulk. Some studies have suggested that buying in bulk could save over 20% a year on regular household purchases.
Get organized. Losing things costs Americans a lot of wasted money each year.
Reduce the amount of credit card interest on monthly balances will most certainly save. Shop for the lowest interest rate cards.
Wasting food averages over $500 per year per person. Make only what will be eaten.
Getting in better shape and reducing bad health habits is a great practice for cost saving over time.
Reduce the amount of money spent on alcohol or tobacco. According to WalletHub, investing in the cost of one pack of cigarettes a day in the stock market over 50 years would have grown to over $1 million.
Use gift cards. Over $1 billion in gift cards have never been redeemed.
Avoid gym memberships, as only 18% of members actually use their membership consistently.
Reduce lottery ticket purchases. On average, American’s spend $300 per person annually on tickets. In fact, we spend more money on lottery tickets than leisure, entertainment, and books combined.
Shop wisely. Don’t buy needless product warranties or extra items because they are on sale.
Don’t buy bottled water. It’s 2000 times more expensive than tap water. On average, we spend over $100 a year per person on water, and families spend up to $350 per year.
Use the 30-day rule before making purchases, which means, wait 30 days to see if you need it.
Take advantage of rewards programs with credit cards

Learn to say “No” to kids on needless purchases or expenses.
Have friends come over, rather than going out to save money.
Cut back on video games, DVDs, and music purchases.
Sell unwanted items like clothing, furniture, appliances, and shoes to generate money.
Turn off the lights, and raise the temperature on the hot water heater and air conditioner when you aren’t home or on vacation could mean hundreds of additional dollars in savings.
Buy used items like purchasing a used car. New cars are more expensive, lose value quickly, and cost more in insurance premiums.
Consider using generic drug alternatives.
Take advantage of company benefits, like free matching on retirement funds and other perks.
Avoid speeding tickets, red light cameras, and maintenance work orders.
Always do an annual health check-up, as they are normally free with most insurance plans.
Don’t overspend on a large home or expensive apartment.
It never hurts to ask for something FREE, like a parking pass or membership fee.
Use a bi-weekly payment plan for home mortgages, student loans, credit card debt, and car loans, as it will save a tremendous amount of money in interest and pay things off quicker.
Pennies add up, so convert $1 a day into change and save it. Saving our loose change adds up!

 

ASK YOURSELF

People need to have a candid conversation with themselves, and take time to understand what money means to them.  Ask yourself, “Is spending this money improving my well-being? “Is it making things easier for me?” “Do I really need this?” “If this causes me to go into debt, can I handle it?” When you have these answers and control over your money, then you will become more financially successful and feel a lot better.
Every step, big or small, can make a huge impact on our savings, so try to spend your money on items that really matters–the things that bring our families happiness, and allow us to concentrate on reaching our goals.

MONEY SHOULDN’T CHANGE YOU

Money shouldn’t change who you are, and we should still be the same person with or without it.  We should be placing the highest value on the most important things in life, such as family, health, being thankful what we do have, and not wasting time and energy lamenting about the lack of money.  As we have discussed, feelings about money are born early in life from experiences.  We don’t get any formal financial education, so most of us learn from what our parents did, or through the school of hard knocks.  When we discussed why so many lottery winners or athletes went broke, it was because they were never taught how to manage money, or what was needed to make good financial choices.  It’s funny because think about if you won the lottery, what would you do? Most of us would want the big house, fancy car, travel, and it’s a great 5 minutes of entertainment to think what we would do if we won!  However, what doesn’t crack the list of decisions is how would I invest it? How could I live off it properly? How do I share it with others? How will I protect it? What about the taxes? It’s no fun, and it’s very foreign to our thinking because we don’t know what to do.  Ask yourself if it will change who you are and the priorities in your life? We always need to be true to ourselves and our families.

MONEY EMOTIONS

Money is not about bank balances, it’s about emotions.  Recognizing how money influences our emotions can help us to make smarter decisions, and lead to a prosperous future.  Money shouldn’t consume us or be the center of our lives.  Materialism and consumerism are entrenched in our everyday lives through movies, television, advertising, etc.  It shouldn’t be about having the nicest stuff, trying to impress people, or thinking that money makes us better.  We rather go to an expensive dinner with friends knowing that we can’t really afford it, as opposed to the embarrassment that we think would come from telling our friends that we can’t afford it.  We need to be honest with ourselves, holding our actions accountable for the financial decisions we are making.  Is going into debt worth experiencing the stress of having to pay for that expensive dinner with your friends?  Good friendships aren’t built on money.