Before we enter pre-school, most of us were taught how to count to 10 using our fingers. This basic arithmetic is the basis for more difficult and complex mathematics down the road. With these skills, we can make sure we receive the correct change at the store, calculate how much something would cost when it was on sale at “40% off” or how much total interest we will pay on a loan before it’s paid in full. Some talented individuals will move on to careers that require knowledge of calculus, physics or even rocket science.
Financial literacy requires some basic arithmetic skills but thankfully, knowledge of rocket science is not required. The ultimate goal of being financially literate is threefold:
- stay on top of your current financial situation
- grow your income, assets and investments income to the best of your ability; and
- ask for help when you are in over your head
Cash is no longer king. Debit and credit cards dominate the retail industry. Very few consumers pay for their purchases with cash. Try this experiment: pay with cash the next time you are at a store and watch the cashier’s face – they likely will have a hard time counting the change you are owed.
Using plastic means that we no longer have to “do the math” when we buy things. Because the vendors’ computer calculates the purchase price, taxes, the tips in restaurants and the change we are owed, we lose touch with how much we spend and how much things cost. Thankfully, there’s a simple way to track what we spend and stay in control of your financial situation.
The #1 reason consumers have debt problems is money mismanagement. Other than a lack of discipline to go back and review where we spent our money, there is no excuse for not knowing where it goes considering the electronic world we live in. All bank and credit accounts have a built in tracking system at your disposal. It’s up to you to leverage this information and stay on top of things.
When we use debit and credit cards, we are simultaneously tracking where the money is going. The banks and lenders are doing the work for us! This was much harder in a cash world since it was difficult to keep receipts and remember where we spend the money. We can now go online and download transactions onto a spreadsheet, software or app directly from our bank account or credit card statement. This is how you really get a grip on our spending habits. Tracking and correcting bad spending habits is your best defense against money mismanagement.
Once you know where you are spending your money, you are able to make better decisions and set limits when you are buying gifts, going to restaurants, taking trips, buying vehicles or investing in a home. You are also more likely to know when you are carrying excessive debt and when to ask for help if things get out of hand.
If you are burdened with debt stress, asking for sound advice is a sign of strength and the smart thing to do. Asking sooner rather than later is always better. Try our debt reduction calculator and call Doyle Salewski today for your free, no obligation consultation. You’ll be glad you did.