Gloria Martinez –

How To Stay on Track With Your Finances

black calculator near ballpoint pen on white printed paper

Staying on top of your finances is important in today’s world where credit card debt can pile up faster than your income, but it’s not always easy to stay on track. Little things begin to add up throughout the year; you pay a little bit for streaming services, lawn care, and extracurricular activities for your children, and pretty soon, you’re spending money faster than it’s coming in. It’s a good idea to go over your finances every year to find out exactly where your money is going and where you can begin to make cuts without sacrificing what you need.

Creating a budget is an essential part of a financial plan, and while it may sound overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be. Learning how to keep your money on track and how to communicate with your partner or family members about it will keep everyone happy and will prevent nasty surprises down the road.

Here are a few tips on how to get on top of your finances this spring.

Find out how much you’re worth

Finding out how much value is in your assets can help you determine what your annual budget should be, but it can also help you figure out whether buying a new home is an option. This is one of the largest purchases you’ll ever make, so it’s imperative to do all the research you can before making any decisions. As with any real estate investment, keep an eye on the market (homes in Portland have sold for $450,000 on average over last month) to know when you should buy and when you should hold off, as it can fluctuate wildly.

Create a budget

Every family needs to learn how to live on a budget. This means different things for everyone; it might necessitate cutting back on non-essential spending, or it may just mean setting a spending goal and sticking to it. Look at your weekly and monthly spending by going over your bank accounts and figure out where you’re spending the most money. Sometimes, cost-effective techniques such as using coupons at the grocery store and carpooling to save on gas can help out a lot more than you think. Another way to save on monthly expenses is to look for discounts on your car insurance. Even if you have full coverage, you can save by grouping policies together, having an anti-theft device in your vehicle, and insuring multiple vehicles under the same policy.

Hold yourself accountable

It can be easy to splurge on things when you’ve had a bad day or when you feel you’ve done a good job of saving money and deserve to treat yourself; however, doing so might only derail all your hard work! Instead, hold yourself accountable by prioritizing: stick to your budget, your shopping list, and your goals, and remind yourself that there will be a time for splurging down the road. Once your finances are in order and you’ve worked hard to create some savings, you can (responsibly) spend a little.

Say no to extra credit

It’s tempting to open up a new line of credit at a department store, especially when they offer a discount on your purchase along with it. However, having several lines of credit open will keep you bogged down financially in the long run. If you have filed bankruptcy or are trying to build your credit up, start with one card and pay it off as you use it in order to build without harming your credit score.

Getting your finances on track can take some time, so be patient and don’t be afraid to ask for help from a professional. Look for ways throughout the year that your family can save money and be more responsible, and include your kids in discussions about how to get started. It’s never too early to start teaching them how to handle money and be smart about their choices, especially if you have teens who can benefit from hands-on experience.

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