Get control of your finances

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas-- -- For the New Year, many of us have goals of getting healthier, getting more organized and being more efficient at the things we do. What if I told you that you could accomplish all of these things by learning how to track your spending? Don't think these New Years goals and personal finance are related?

Getting Healthier:

Spending more money than you have creates stress and lowers happiness. Understanding your finances and living within your means will reduce stress, conflict, and uncertainty in your life. Less stress equals better health!

Getting more organized:

By having a consistent system of tracking your money- down to the dollar- you will know exactly how much is coming in and how much is going out. You will know what you spend in different categories- how much on food, clothes, games, entertainment and so on. You will also know what your bottom line is, how much you have accumulated so far. You will know how much is in your Thrift Savings Plan, how much is in your checking and when you will have that credit card bill or vehicle paid off in full. An organized person knows his net worth.

Being more efficient:

By knowing where your money goes, you will have a better basis for deciding where to keep your money and how to make it work for you. In the past you may have always just put extra money in the savings account you never use, but now that you are saving on a regular basis you have the opportunity to invest in other financial products- certificates of deposit, money market accounts, even mutual funds. All these products will make your money work for you!

So how do you track your finances? There are several different ways, none better than the other; it just depends on what suits you and your family and what you will consistently use. By writing down or noting every purchase you make or bill you pay, you will know where your money is.

Tips for monitoring your money

· Use a basic notebook or pad to write down what you spend in a notebook or check register

· Make and label cash envelopes with various categories and allot money to each category

· Use software programs to track money

· Many banks offer apps where you categorize your expenses, other sites offer personal financial tracking

· Be aware of the information you are putting online and that your transaction and account information is secure.

So for this New Year, look at your system of tracking money in the past, see if it still works for you. If not, or if you don't have a system yet, consider the four options above and try them out. By taking control of your finances, you will feel less stress, more organized and know your money is working for you.

For more information, please visit the Airman & Family Readiness Center, go to www.familysupportgoodfellow.org or call to make an appointment with a financial counselor at (325) 654-3893.