Twelve Signs You May Need Help Managing Money
These symptoms may indicate that you have trouble managing money, so you can start working on the problem.
Money management can be difficult for many people, but recognizing that you need help may be the first step toward overcoming your challenges. Following are 12 ways to tell that you might have a problem managing money.
1. You're worried your card won't have enough funds
If you go to make a purchase, and you're unsure if your card will actually have enough funds to cover it, chances are you're not managing your money well. You should know exactly how much is available, and unless it's an emergency, you likely shouldn't be spending to the point where it's even a question.
2. You have less than $100 in your bank account
If you have just $100 or less in your bank account, you likely need some help managing your money. This is a strong indicator that you're not saving and/or that you're not living within your means.
3. You often experience overdrafts in your bank account
This is an extension of number 2, but if overdrafts are a common occurrence for you, it means you're not managing your money well enough to have a handle on how much is in your account. The fees associated with overdrafts can add up, and make your problems even worse.
4. When an unexpected expense comes up, you aren’t able to afford it
If an unexpected expense happens, such as your water heater going out, and you don’t have the money to take care of it, you're going to find yourself in a tough position. If you don't have the funds to be prepared for such things, it’s a sign you could be managing your money better.
5. You throw a lot of food away
One sure sign of poor money management is that you find yourself throwing food away regularly. Overbuying at the grocery store is probably one of the most common lapses in money management. Don’t shop for groceries when you’re hungry, stick to a pre-set grocery list, and organize your frig and pantry so you use up food before the expiration date.1
6. Your electric bill shows that your home is far from efficient
Another area where you may be throwing money away is your electricity. Electric companies will often notify their customers of their energy profile, comparing the customer's use to others with similar homes. If you're using a lot more than similar homes, you have some work to do. Perhaps efficiency upgrades can be made to your home, but even just paying more attention to turning off lights and electronics can make a big difference.
7. You don't have a savings account
A checking account is a good start, and if you're managing that well, congratulations. However, if you don't have a savings account as well, you could be managing your money better. You need a fund that grows over time, and is always there for you, no matter what life throws at you. Simply having a savings account that grows regularly is one of the best things you can do to manage your money.
8. You make frequent withdrawals from your savings account
If, however, you find yourself regularly making withdrawals from that savings account to cover day-to-day expenses, then you may not be managing it quite as well after all. It's called a savings account for a reason. Save it!
9. Your credit cards are never paid off
If your credit cards are never paid off, it means that you always have debt. It also means that you’re incurring interest charges each month, adding to your monthly expenses.
10. You don't have a serious retirement plan
If your retirement plan ends with thought of taking it easy or traveling around the world, you need to back that up with money management. You need a legitimate plan, whether a 401(k) or an IRA, and there is a lot to learn about managing these accounts specifically. Make a start by finding out if your employer offers a retirement plan. If not, talk to someone at your bank.
11. You don't have a handle on your own investments
If you don't have a firm grasp on the investments you're actually making, including your retirement plan, do research and get better at it. The more you know about how to invest, the better investments you can make, which means more money for you in the long run.
12. You wonder how you'll pay for your kids to go to college
If you have children, you probably intend to have them continue their education after high school, and that will mean spending a substantial amount of money. It's never too early to start saving for this as a parent, but if you're having a hard time figuring out how to make that happen, some better money management is in order.2
There are certainly more tell-tale signs that you could use help managing your money, but if any of these sound familiar or you simply know you need some help, don't be afraid to seek it out.
1. Click here for an article on “use by” and expiration dates for food.
2. Click here for an article about 529 college savings plans.
The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank, a division of ZB, N.A.