Four things you must do to stay on track financially

Staying on track financially involves setting and following goals - here are four things you need to do to keep ahead when times are tough.

Staying on track financially isn’t a singular achievement that happens one day when you make enough money to keep up with your lifestyle… it’s something that happens every day and with every spending decision you make. You could earn very little and still stay on track, which makes it a mind-set and a collection of good habits fuelled by a little self-discipline. Here are four of those habits…

1. Create a budget spreadsheet

Create an excel spreadsheet that details and accounts for every cent that comes into and leaves your bank account, from rent, utilities, insurance, and savings to eating out, entertainment, clothing, and school fees. If you strictly monitor your expenditure, you’ll become intimately acquainted with your money-spending habits, which should do two things:

  • Reinforce your good habits (I managed to put more money into my savings than usual this month!)
  • Reveal where you’re going off track (I need to stop eating out/getting takeaways so often)

If a spreadsheet is too much work for you (or you don’t have access to a personal computer), try a budgeting or personal finance app like Mint, You Need a Budget, or Wally.

2. Always shop with a list

The key to successful shopping and not coming home with twice as many items as you originally set out for is to create a list and to stick to it. In the case of weekly or monthly grocery shopping, the list could be standardized and tweaked according to your needs. If you need to go clothing shopping, create a list of what you need before you leave home so that you make those decisions and set those limits before you’re surrounded by all that temptation.

3. Share your financial goals

Humans are social creatures: we gain great strength from sharing our experiences with others so it works well to have a friend, family member, or even financial advisor hold you accountable to your goals. Talking to someone about your financial difficulties or even bad spending habits can help you “come clean” and move forward with a much-needed emotional support system in place.

4. Don’t be wasteful

R5 here, R10 there… the Rands and cents add up if we’re wasteful and to such an extent that a significant portion of our income could literally be going into the garbage each month. Do you throw away things that could be recycled, repurposed, or reused in some way? For example, instead of buying a brand new piece of furniture, think about making it yourself or refurbishing what you’ve already got. Another example: instead of throwing away vegetables that are beginning to droop, make a big pot of vegetable stew or soup; or use fruit that’s a day away from the bin to make smoothies or milkshakes.

Think about how you might be wasteful in your day-to-day life and start making little changes to create big savings.

More from our blog: