How to Manage Personal Finance

Image via Gigi New York

Image via Gigi New York

I read recently that, according to a Stash survey, 76% of millennial women find investing confusing and, thus, don't do it. Even more disturbingly, a recent Federal Reserve poll has indicated that 47% of its American respondents would be unable to come up with $400 if needed for an emergency.

At first glance, personal finance might not seem like the most glamorous of topics to many people. As a former student of business and economics, I can only agree to a certain extent. The basic fundamentals, such as balance sheets and tax calculations, can be boring but let's look at the bigger picture. 

Aside from personal financial management being a necessity, it can be glamorous if viewed in the correct light. I think about chic women in finance like Sallie Krawcheck and about the organization aspect of finance. I'm admittedly not the most organized person in my natural state, which is probably why beautifully organized office spaces and household management binders interest me so much. 

Here are a few tips on getting started with personal financial management so that, one day, you'll be able to have your lake house and Gucci luggage---and all of the other practical things, of course! 

Benchmark yourself.
Start by determining where you are financially, both practically and philosophically. For instance, I took this quiz which determines how you think about money---I'm in the "Visionary" category, for reference. Knowing your money philosophy can help you play off of your strengths and address your weaknesses. In terms of practical matters, it may be helpful to outline your fixed monthly income and expenses on a cute tracking sheet

Prioritize your goals.
You may not realize just how many financial goals you have. If you're a recent grad, chances are that one of your goals may be to pay off student loan debt. You may be saving for a trip or to move to a new city. You may be saving for a big purchase, a safety net, or even just "the future". Whatever your goals, be sure to prioritize them and develop an allocation strategy. After expenses, how much of your income will you put towards debt repayment? How much will you allocate to your safety net and then, how much is left for travel or an investment item?

Track financial activity.
It's easy to track fixed income and expenses (rent, utilities, etc.) on paper or a spreadsheet, but things become a bit more complicated when you are looking to track all of your bank transactions. My solution has been the much lauded app Mint. You connect your bank accounts and cards which allows Mint to track and categorize all of your purchases and deposits. It provides visualization tools such as charts that allow you to see where your money goes and adjust accordingly. By the way, the app is powered by Intuit so it's as safe as it can be.

Utilize free resources.
There are so many great websites and blogs out there with resources to help you with just about every facet of personal finance from saving and investing to taxes and budgets. Some of my favorites are: Ellevest (a platform developed by Sallie Krawcheck), DailyWorth, and GoGirl Finance.

Educate yourself.
This point actually goes beyond your own personal finance. In order to reap the full benefits of personal finance management, it's always important to understand the economy at large. Of course, you can keep up with Bloomberg but my favorite podcast for this is NPR's Planet Money. For personal finance education, try out the Listen, Money Matters podcast.

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The Real Connection Between Health and Wealth (Ellevest)
Frequently Asked Questions About Money (DailyWorth) 
How to Build Wealth at Every Stage of Your Life (DailyWorth)
Your Guide to Spring Cleaning Your Finances (DailyWorth)
MoneyType Assessment 
The GoGirl Guide to Saving & Investing (GoGirl Finance)
12 Steps to Getting a Better Wardrobe Without Breaking the Bank (The Coveteur)
Learnvest Founder & CEO Alexa von Tobel on GirlBoss Radio