The ABCs of Taking Control of Your Money in 2017 | Molly’s Money

January 12, 2017·

If this is your first time here, Molly’s Money is a regular series I write on this blog that includes ALL things personal finance – debt management, budgeting, home buying, savings, investment, etc. I am NOT a financial advisor, but I am married to one! These are just things that I have learned over the years as I struggled with my own personal finances and ultimately, became debt free in 2012. 

It has been nearly five, almost six months since I last did a Molly’s Money post! I didn’t intentionally stop writing them… it just sort of… happened. But after so many of you said you missed these posts in my Reader Survey a few weeks ago, I wanted to start bringing them back! They won’t be weekly, but I’d like to try to do monthly Molly’s Money posts. 

I would LOVE to know what kinds of questions / topics you’d like to see in this series!! Feel free to let me know in the comments or email me! 🙂 

Since we are almost two weeks into the new year (crazy, right?!), I thought it would be a good time to talk about taking control of your money in 2017. January is always that time that we start to look at our previous year’s finances and how we can improve in the next year… 

With that being said… here are my “ABCs” of Taking Control of Your Money in 2017!

A: Assess Your Financial Situation. Regularly.

This is something I talk about a lot, but can’t be said too much (in my opinion). It’s important to do things like look at your bank statements, see how much you’re spending, see what areas you need to improve, etc. Do this regularly. Seriously. Weekly at first, then monthly!

Has your income changed at all? Well, that can affect things… big time! 

For example… me and my husband, we are both fully self-employed… so right now, our income isn’t necessarily the same every month (although that’s something we’re working to change… anyway, another topic for another day!) So we have to assess our finances regularly to see where we are with regards to our budget, savings goals, retirement planning goals, etc. It’s something we want to keep a close track of!

Maybe you’ve paid off a credit card or a car loan or student loan… that’s something that can affect your credit score, and your monthly expenses… so that’s something to look into!

Also, checking your credit score and monitoring that is so important!

The more often you can assess where you are in your finances, the better control you have over your money! 🙂

B: Budget and Get Back to Basics.

You guys know how much I preach setting and maintaining a clear and detailed budget. And I also believe that the more “basics” you can master when it comes to your finances, the better off you’ll be.

What do I mean by basics? I mean things like your budget, having an emergency fund, paying off debt, paying off credit cards, planning for retirement, etc. Do everything you can to master those basic financial areas and you’ll be able to set yourself up for financial success which ultimately gives you more freedom to do the “fun” things with your money!

C: Cut Your Spending.

Budgeting, in addition to just being good for your overall financial wellbeing, also gives you a good picture of where your money is going and what areas you might need to cut back. Maybe you spend too much money on clothes, maybe it’s too much money eating out, maybe you go over on your grocery budget each month… 

The only REAL way to figure out what areas that you spend too much money in is to properly budget and track what’s coming in and going out (and in what categories). Then, from there, figure out where you might be able to cut back. 

For me, I’m trying my darndest to be smarter about my lunch budget. This one is really hard for me because since I stay at home with my kids AND work from home, eating lunch out of the house is sometimes my only chance to get out during the day. BUT, this can easily get out of hand, especially because I’m not only buying for myself but also for Lilly (and soon, Amos!) Since we budget and since I track everything, I know this is an area that I can improve.

In 2016, a big area I cut back my spending in was clothing. I shop a whole lot smarter now when it comes to clothes and accessories and so I have been able to significantly cut back my spending in that area and it has made a massive difference in my monthly cash budget.

Now what do you think? How are you taking control of your money in 2017? What areas might you need to cut spending? What financial tips have been helpful for you?