If you’ve ever felt discouraged or upset about your financial life, you’re certainly not alone. Many people go through years, or even decades, of not earning enough, not spending wisely, or not having sufficient education to make the best money decisions.
The fact that you’re reading this article or listening to the companion Money Girl podcast means you know that your financial life could or should be better. Congratulations, that’s the first step to getting on the right track!
In many cases, financial problems arise when you don’t have an effective money system in place. In this article, I’ll cover a personal finance system that helps you make the most of what you already have, simplify your life, and create more success.
There are four overarching parts to a money system that keeps you informed, allows some flexibility, and supports your dreams, all at the same time.
1. Monitoring cash flow
The first part of your personal finance system should be finding the best way to monitor your cash flow. Understanding exactly how you earn, spend, and save is so important because it’s the foundation of your financial life. If you’re not sure how much money is coming in and going out, you won’t be able to manage it intentionally.
But getting your arms around cash flow isn’t always easy because it’s probably moving through multiple places. These may include a bank checking and savings, one or more credit cards, a retirement account, brokerage, college savings account, medical savings account, and more. To manage all these transactions properly without driving yourself to the brink of insanity, you need a way to centralize them.
The trick to watching and managing cash flow is to use a convenient digital tool that aggregates your entire financial life in one place. Here are some of my favorite money programs that make it easy to stay on top of your cash flow using your computer desktop or a mobile device.
The trick to watching and managing cash flow is to use a convenient digital tool that aggregates your entire financial life in one place.
Cash flow monitoring tools
Quicken has been around a long time and is considered the gold standard in personal finance software. It connects to multiple types of accounts, such as banks, credit cards, lenders, and investments, to aggregate your transactions. Once you enter the credentials you use to log into various financial sites, every time you open Quicken, it connects to them and pulls in your new transactions.
The Quicken Starter edition comes with automatic categorization, limited budget tracking, and a bill…
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