Marriages break down over finances, banks harass you regarding them, and the stress can drive you on the brink of despair. Feel like it’s the time to take the reins in your hands? The good news is that you can. Just combine a little bit of common sense with a pinch of planning, and you have the fastest grip on your ‘dough.’ Below are the top ten ways to take good care of your finances:

  1. Start with a plan. First of all, jot down all the facts of your fiscal life – how much money is coming in, how much are you spending, how much are you saving, how much do you owe somebody, etc. This will require you to bring out all the bank statements, utility bills, credit receipts, etc. Then divide the list into how much you want to put under each heading. Be realistic while doing so, though. You cannot get along on only 20% of your salary and save 80% of it! Then, start off on achieving your set target. Again, it has to be realistic and should allow for any variable costs that you may have.
  2. Involve the family and your better half in planning your budget and savings. Listen to what everybody needs. Listen to their suggestions and involve them in filing receipts etc. so that they know how much you all are spending versus how much you have to. This will make them more comfortable with any changes you might propose.
  3. Categorize your savings into emergency funds, your children’s college funds, retirement savings and leisure fund. This way you will have a cushion whenever the need arises. For example, your children will not have to miss college if they do not get scholarships or they do not inherit an estate from that old great grand aunt. Emergency funds should at least be three months worth of expenditure.
  4. Record your savings. Keep records of what you are spending money on. Is there a way to cut down on this spending?
  5. Cut down on your credit card use, because once you are hooked on buying things using credit, you would always be paying off high-interest debt. You do not have to stop totally, but realize what you can pay back in a logical timeframe.
  6. Expensive gifts are always the biggest financial shock. Cut down on the price and improve the experience. Be creative and give gifts that are more than hefty price tags.
  7. If you are planning on mortgaging a house or buying a car on a bank loan, first consider if you would be able to pay for it without changing much of your lifestyle. Consider what small changes you can make and if that would affect your family.
  8. Cut down on expensive leisure activities. Spend more quality time together.
  9. Do not treat away all your perks and bonuses.
  10. Teach your children how to manage their funds because an early start is always a good investment.

Follow these guidelines and you’ll be well on your way to living a debt free life.