Money doesn’t buy happiness. It’s not more important than your family, your friends or your health. But let’s not kid ourselves — financial security gives you the freedom to make the choices that are right for you, and freedom can be the key to happiness. We’d all like to improve our money management skills, and the first step toward getting better at something is understanding it. So let’s turn to the 21st century’s primary source of information: Google. And that’s when it gets a bit hairy. This is how a prominent website defines ‘money management’:
‘The process of managing money, including investments, budgeting, banking, and taxes. Also called investment management.’
You’re probably not feeling very inspired right now. In fact, if you’re like most people, reading that has probably got you thinking that ‘money management’ is something best left to the professionals — people who know something about money. But what you may not have realised is that, when it comes to your money, the person who knows the most about it is you. Let’s be clear: money management is a big topic, and there are lots of books, articles and advice that will help you deal with the specific issues you’ll face as you work toward financial freedom. But definitions of money management that get bogged down in the details miss an important point: the secret to good money management is simple. You just need commitment and organisation.
You know how much money you make and how much you spend — after all, you’re the one spending it! Whether you’re investing in the stock market or buying a sandwich, you make money management decisions every day of your life, and if you don’t like the results you’re getting all you need to do is change your habits. Like any subject, financial advice comes with its own language, so you’ve probably heard words like ‘budget’ and ‘statement of net worth’. This terminology can be a bit intimidating but the thing to remember is that these are just names for the tools that will help you sort out how much money you have, where it’s going and how you can generate more of it. If you find out what they are and learn how to use them to make money management a part of your daily routine, you’ll be able to make the best use of your resources and create a lifestyle for yourself that’s a lot less stressful, with a lot more options.
So what exactly do you do? Well, as we said, money management is a big topic and the learning process is going to be a lot easier if you take it one bit at a time. You can browse our list of articles for specific topics and you can check out our online store for comprehensive guides on how to create strong financial foundations for your family. But before you do either of those things, you’ll need to commit to it and get organised. Sit down with your family and decide what you want out of life, and commit to doing the things you’ll need to do to get what you want. Then start organising. Dig up all your bills, statements, receipts and other important financial documents, blow the cobwebs off them and start creating a system that will make them easy to find. Use expanding files or folders to create separate spaces each different type of document and sort them all into chronological order. Once you can honestly say that you know where everything is, you’re ready to begin the process of consciously managing your money — and with a bit of guidance you’ll be prepared for any challenges you’ll face along the way.
Money management is a broad topic with a lot of different facets, so it’s not surprising that Google pulls up some confusing results. But it isn’t anywhere near as scary as it can sound. By being conscious of what you do with your money, you can use the principles of money management to build wealth and take control of your future. And hey — Google isn’t always scary. After all, if you ask it to, it will bring you here.