Personal Finance
The Easy Way

I think most people make personal finance way too hard. I know I did. At one time I had over 10 credit cards, multiple bank accounts, mutual funds and insurance policies. The number of bills I mailed each month was unreal.

But not now and no more.

I had to get back to a more simple personal finance system after my divorce. It was just too much work and stress to have to deal with all that paperwork. The time I spent was too much and the money outgo was not helping me.

You don't really want a bunch of money anyway. You want what the money will buy. A place to live, something to drive, food, heat, electricity, a cell phone, high speed wireless internet, clothing, entertainment and fun. You will want some money for later on in your life.

Step 1

The first step to a more simple personal finance life is to not have any joint accounts. The instances of the problems and abuses caused by other people having access to your money are legendary.

Even Oprah Winfrey, a billionaire, signs all her checks over $1,000. If a billionaire wants to know where every check over $1,000 goes, it seems that you will want to know where every check over $1 goes. She even looks at the checks less than $1,000.

It is your money, the last thing you want is someone stealing from you at the worst case, and at best deciding what YOUR money should be used for.

I had so much trouble with this when I was married. If there was any money in the checking account, my wife would spend it. Even when I specifically told her what the money was for, most likely living expenses to keep a roof over our heads, the heat kept on and food on the table. The money in the checking account was just in there temporarily until I wrote out the bills. I had to get to the point of writing out the checks in advance before I had the money in the account. That way the balance was always around zero or less than zero. If I left $100 in there, she would spend it.

They call it personal finance because it is personal, meaning for you alone. Not your wife, not your girlfriend, not your kids, not your parents, not your partner. YOU.

You decide. Money is just too important for you to delegate this task to someone else. Your money is like food to your health. Money comes to you from whatever sources. You spend it on the things you see fit for your life. It comes in and goes out like food. You put food in your body. Some stays as fuel some leaves as waste.

You decide what you eat. You take it in and through your choices you let it go.

It is not that hard to deal with your own money. The clerks at my bank are always friendly and helpful. My bank has branch offices all over I can go into or use their ATM's for free. The main gas station I use even has free ATM use.

Writing checks is not that hard either. Nor is paying on-line. Spending money is not difficult. You do not need to delegate this task to someone else because you think it is too hard.

What is difficult is seeing someone else spend most of your money in ways you do not agree with. That is what happens to most married couples.

Keeping your money separate will be a big problem to most married men. Your wife will resist this idea. If your wife is frugal, joint accounts may work for you. If she is not, your personal finance life will be a nightmare. All the hours working, all the sacrifices will be for nothing because everything she buys will be for something you don't want.

Step 2

The least stressful and most empowering way to live financially is to have as much of your personal finance bills and dealings paid into the future as possible.

This is not how most people do it.

Most people wait to mail in or pay on-line bills or drop money off as late as possible before they are due. They live with these bills lingering around for weeks. This goes on year round. So you have this bill lingering feeling all the time. The bills are always on your mind because you always have bills laying around waiting to be paid.

Why not pay them early. Why not pay them as soon as they arrive? Why not pay in advance as much as you can?

You are not going to make much money on interest by keeping the money in your account for 2 more weeks. Maybe if you have millions, but you are not at that level yet.

When I get a bill in the mail, I just write out the check, prepare the return envelope and put the bill in the mail the same day. I do this as much as possible and the relief from the bill paying stress in enormous.

What do you gain by waiting? You don't gain anything, you only lose.

Paying this way is empowering. It takes some doing if you are not used to it, but once you start paying this way you start to become free.

It is mid February as I write this. I have mailed in my April rent and my April payment for my daughters braces. I do not have any bills in envelopes waiting to be paid. There is nothing on-line for me to pay either. I have written the bills for April in my checkbook register that come out of my checking account automatically. In other words, the money I have available now is sufficient to pay almost all my April living expenses. This is only February. I have totally gone from paying my bills at the last possible instant to paying nearly 2 months in advance.

As money comes to me I will just keep paying into the future.

This is a little different spin on accumulating months of living expenses. I think that accumulating 6 months to 2 years worth of living expenses in a separate account is a great goal and a great thing to have. But this is a long term goal that you can have in addition to what I am suggesting. I don't have 6 months of living expenses in the bank. I am a divorced dad with two children to care for. I don't have a ton of excess money to bank. The divorce was devastating financially to my personal finances. It is taking time to recover. Being married did not help my financial picture at all. In fact, if your marriage is bad, end it sooner rather than later so you have more time to recover. My friends who got divorced earlier have recovered and are doing great. But it takes time to recover.

What I can do now is become free by paying whatever I can now. You owe the money, it is not a waste. Why wait?

But try this method of paying in advance and paying as soon as the bill arrives. Your stress level and feeling of freedom around your personal finances will be greatly improved.

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