Money Management 101

Dear Michael D. Gatson,

I enjoyed reading your blog on Love & Finances but I am a single professional and I need some advice on getting my finances in order. How do I save when I only have one source of income? Can’t I just save after I pay my bills and have some fun?

Too many professionals find themselves with sparkling new big ticket items, living paycheck to paycheck, but no money for groceries, and worse no emergency fund in case they become the latest victim of the revolving recession door. Today it is imperative to save for a rainy day, because you never know when that day will come. It is important to live below your means, working with what you have, and not accumulating credit card debt, and always put aside 10% of your income.

It is important to set financial goals, make a monthly budget, and stick to it. Examine your current living expenses and decide what you can live on comfortably. For example, if you are single, you are probably paying over $400 for cable, Internet, cell phone, and a gym membership. Even though watching the Have’s and The Have Not’s on OWN is nice, or True Blood on HBO (is it necessary?) especially when cable runs an average of $ 80 for a monthly bill. While having internet might a necessity, the extended cable is not, and that is money that can be saved.

In 2005, I experienced some financial issues and from that experience I learned the true value of saving and investing. While in graduate school my mentor/friend educated me on the importance of having a savings and a 6-month emergency fund. When I graduated, I made sure that I paid my savings, emergency fund and investment accounts like a monthly bill. In 2010 only my close family and friends knew about me losing my fulltime job. For almost 6 months I was without health insurance and a salary. I did not ask anyone for any financial assistance because I had a few contract jobs and a 6-month emergency savings.

Financial tips:

Saving is Sexy: Being Broke or begging for money is not hot! But saving is! Make sure you set aside at least 10% of your income and put into a savings account. Having a savings ensures financial security. Build the habit and literally become stronger and more disciplined. You build the emergency fund itself, and you have money set aside for emergencies and for opportunities. We are not talking about the ability to go out for dinner on short notice, but perhaps you could take advantage of a vacation. Or maybe your fund enables you to fly home for an emergency, or fly to your best friend destination wedding without maxing out your credit cards

Credit Cards: Less is more when it comes to credit and retail store cards. If you have multiple cards crowding your wallet, now is the time to streamline in order to get organized. The best way to start is to cut out the store cards, and consolidate down to 2-3 major credit cards at most – preferably those with the lowest interest rates.

Monthly Budget: Keeping a monthly budget is an excellent and easy step to ensuring healthy saving habits. This reminder will also help with remembering to schedule bills to be paid.

Online Bill Pay: This is seriously the easiest way to ensure good financial habits and a great credit score. Almost all banks and credit unions offer online bill pay – use it. Always pay bills on time to avoid unnecessary late fees. Organizing your financial life shouldn’t be a chore – but it will take some time commitment. Paying your bills on time ensures a great credit score. But staying organized will help you sleep at night!

Planning is key to reaching your financial goal. There is more mental comfort to living off your savings versus credit cards during unfortunate transitional periods. Years of savings will also pay off when you do want to make large purchases such as a house, or even starting a family of your own.

Be Blessed!

Michael D. Gatson

What tips do you have for single professionals to manage their finances? Share your comments below!

Daily Inspiration

If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground,they want rain without thunder and lightning. ~Frederick Douglas

Daily Inspiration

There is no passion to be found playing small-in settling for a life that is less than the one your capable of living. ~Nelson Mandela

Daily Inspiration

You can turn painful situations around through laughter. If you can find humor in anything, even poverty, you can survive it. ~Bill Cosby

Daily Inspiration

One of the things I learned the hard way was that it doesn’t pay to get discouraged. Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore your faith in yourself. Michael D. Gatson

Daily Inspiration

“When you forgive, you in no way change the past – but you sure do change the future.” Bernard Meltzer
Unability to forgive causes problems. It not only causes us to be unhappy, but can strain or ruin relationships, distract us from work and family and other important things, make us reluctant to open up to new things and people.We get trapped in a cycle of anger and hurt, and miss out on the beauty of life as it happens.  We need to learn to let go. We need to be able to forgive, so we can move on and be happy.

Have a blessed day!

Michael D. Gatson

Daily Inspiration

Hard work is painful when life is devoid of purpose. But when you live for something greater than yourself and the gratification  of your own ego, then hard work becomes a labor of love.

Daily Inspiration

We can’t move ahead if we’re looking backward and holding on. 

Love & Finances

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if money really did grow on trees? Money is a common source of friction in relationships, particularly in today’s difficult financial times. When left untreated, money problems may damage the trust and understanding necessary to maintain a healthy relationship. In some cases, financial disagreements may even lead to separation or divorce. Some examples of money matters that can cause a couple to fight:

  1. When there is a financial crisis and you are not sure which bills are priorities over the other bills.
  2. Some couples argue over how money should be spent. Do you want to save for a house? Are you in a relationship with someone who is content with renting forever?
  3. One of the individuals in the relationship continues to spend money without thinking about it and the other person wants to save for a rainy day. Are you a spender or a saver? If you’re in a relationship with a person whose money style is your opposite, you will continue to have problems in the future.
  4. One of the individuals in the relationship is not truthful about their finances. Does one partner make more money? Substantially more? Oftentimes, when one partner earns substantially more money, that partner feels entitled to control the money. And the other partner often feels undeserving of control, or less worthy due to lower income.

My advice to solve your relationship problems is this:

Communication: First, you must both agree to talk over all money issues in a positive way.  Be willing to listen and keep an open mind. There’s no place for judgment, name-calling, and anger. At times, our emotions about other issues manifest around money. Our financial behaviors are so deeply ingrained, they can be hard to explain, much less change, but you have to try if you want your relationship to work.

Plan: How are you going to manage your finances and your relationship going forward? Create a plan so that you both agree how often you will handle money in the future. Make a plan and then follow through.

Action: If necessary, set up separate bank accounts so that you each can handle money your own way. Many couples set up a joint account to which each contributes, along with accounts that each person funds and controls separately. Some couples dispense with the joint account and make arrangements to split expenses. If one of you is a saver and the other a spender, find the mid-point where you’re both happy. Do whatever works for you. If you are still struggling, then get some help from a financial planner.

Prior to marriage, many of us had to answer only to ourselves. A major shift occurs as we began our married life—we are now accountable to each other. You can decide to defuse the drama and make money just another thing you share with your partner. Money can secure happiness, but it can’t create it.

How do you work through financial problems with your significant other? Share your comments below!

Daily Inspiration

You can’t let other people tell you who you are. You have to decide that for yourself. Trying to convince others is time that could have been spent living one’s own truth. Michael D. Gatson

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