Navigating financial waters can be difficult for some people. You know that you have a limited amount of money, but aren’t sure what should be paid first. Here is how we prioritize our finances.
A Place To Live
The first priority most people should have is the place that they are living. It doesn’t matter if it’s a huge and spacious house or a tiny apartment, as long as you have a safe place to live. It’s important to set aside your mortgage or rent before spending money on anything else. In fact, if it’s possible you may want to pay your rent up a few months ahead of schedule. Keeping ahead in your rent payments gives you some wiggle room when financial problems come your way. Especially for those who have a hard time putting money into emergency savings, paying your rent months ahead of schedule is a way to put that money away without being tempted to spend it.
The next most important item on our family’s financial priority list is taking care of the car. Next to the place we live it’s the most important item we own. It’s the way my husband gets to work. I need it to run errands. It’s not only important to factor in repairs, gas, and insurance, it’s also neccesary to consider local legal requirements for the car such as safety inspections and registration. Some places even require paying personal property tax on your car. Not meeting the legal requirements of your car could lead to some even more costly fines.
Bills aren’t fun for anyone. They are even less fun when they haven’t been paid and build up fines and interest. The least fun they can be is when a service such as electricity or gas is turned off. Make sure you can afford a certain service before signing up for it. For example, you may need electricity and gas, but cable is an optional luxury. You need a phone, but you don’t need a huge data plan when you can tap into wifi most places. Put the essentials first!
Obviously we need to eat. That doesn’t mean we have to pay an arm and a leg to do it. Looks for sales. Buy generic brands and use coupons. Make a list of the things you need before going to the store. Take a calculator with you to make sure you don’t go over budget. It’s surprising the amount of groceries that you can get for fifty dollars when doing this. You may wonder why I put food last on this list. While food is of the utmost importance (if you don’t eat, you don’t live) it’s also an area where you have the most control in your budget. Your choices and efforts to save money will make the most obvious difference here. When you have a tough month, you can buy cheaper groceries. When you have a good month, you can splurge a bit and buy more expensive food for a better variety. It’s up to you.
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