Many people are still having problems with their finances, and it’s scary. Some know they’re not making enough money, which is obviously a problem. Some don’t think they’re making enough money because they’re in debt, and what they probably need is some budgeting advice. And some know they’re making enough money, they’re spending that money, and not planning for the future.

Enter Suze Orman, Oprah’s financial guru and a lady who knows her stuff. She has come up with an easy money to-do list to help give some guidance to everyone as it regards how to handle your money. I’m not going to copy the entire article here, but I am going to list some of her highlights, with commentary.

Track your spending – Did someone say the word budget? I’m a major proponent of this, as I believe even rich people need to know what their money situation is to make sure they’re not overspending. For those of us who aren’t rich, this becomes even more important to make sure that we always have enough money to pay our bills, buy our food, and put gas in our car. And hopefully, by tracking our spending, will also have enough money left over to have some fun.

Calculate your net worth – This was a little harder to do, but it’s a nice little test to try from time to time. Basically, you first figure out how much money you have which is the easy part. Then you go around and assess the value of items you have to try to determine how much capital you have access to if you had to sell your stuff to survive. Although you may not like this part, deduct at least 50% from everything you value, because you may see something as valuable that buyers will not.

Check your credit profile – Getting a credit report at least once a year is a smart way to see what the rest of the world thinks of your credit. At this point, if you read this blog regularly you know what my thoughts are on credit scores. However, even though I still think they’re worthless, you should probably know where yours is.

Cut Spending by 10 Percent – This is another tough one, but if you’re doing a budget in your at least doing better than barely getting by, it might not be as hard as you think it is. Something you can think about trying is having your checking account and savings account at the same bank, and when you get paid moved him percent over into your savings account. If you can access your account online this is even simpler to do. That way, if you feel you need it, you still have access to your money. But if you don’t need the money and then you’re giving it a chance to accrue some interest for you and make even more money. Something I do is have the money jar next to me and I will split my money up and put some extra money in the money jar. Sure, that’s not quite 10% of my money, but it gets me into the savings mode which is something everyone should think about.

Shop for Insurance Deals – Here Suze is talking about home insurance and automobile insurance. You won’t have to worry about a Geico insurance commercial from me here, but the truth is many of us get comfortable with our insurance companies and never check anyone else out to see if we can get a better deal. Every once in a while it would behoove us to do just that.

Raise Your insurance deductibles – This one has always been an interesting debate. I remember when I was much younger saving a lot of money by having a deductible of $1000. However, I had a car accident that totaled my car and when I got the settlement they lopped off that thousand dollars from the top. It left me with less money to get a new car, and I ended up having to get something I really didn’t want because that’s all I could afford. So it’s always an interesting decision you have to make when something like that comes up. Decide what your comfort level is before making this change. Suze recommends raising your deductible to at least $250; that might not be such a bad move.

Check out a credit union – Credit unions are not only viable options to banks, but if you qualify to join one can actually be much more beneficial than a bank. Credit unions tend to work more with you if you need loans or any other financial help. And they also seem to offer better options for saving your money and getting a better return.

Challenge your property-tax assessment – You have to think a bit about this one before you go doing it. Whereas it’s possible that you’re overpaying on your property taxes, it’s also quite possible that your house is being valued at less than what you think it is and you could end up paying more taxes. Always think about your own situation first before proceeding on an action like this.

Boost emergency fund to cover 8 months of living expenses – The previous recommendation for savings used to be 3 months, but with the way the economy has gone over the last couple of years this recommendation has grown even more than the 6 months I had gotten used to seeing. Basically, the whole idea behind saving is to protect yourself when times get rough. So if you’re thought process can be changed to trying to save as much money as you can, then you won’t have to worry about an arbitrary number of months that you can survive without new work if you happen to lose your job.

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