For many people, personal finance is a tricky area to deal with! With an education system that teaches us next to nothing about money management and budgeting, is it any surprise this is such a big problem?

Most people don’t know how to manage money. They also don’t understand how debt can stack up. This is a deadly combination! It can lead to serious problems, and not only for your personal finance. The stress associated with these problems can often cause family & health issues.

With so many Americans now in debt, it’s more important than ever to learn good financial management skills. It could be the key to getting yourself or even your family out of debt and to a better life!

With that in mind, today I’m going to give you 4 top tips for your personal finance.

1. Track the Details

One of the first things to understand is what you’re actually spending. Many people just spend without really understanding how much cost is going into certain areas. Keep receipts and make notes of anything you don’t have a receipt for. At the end of the month, total everything up. You might be surprised how much you’re spending!

Once you’ve seen where your cash actually goes, you can start getting rid of unneeded expenses. Money is a resource so you should be spending in a considered way. A good idea is to do this over a few months as well, so it allows for exceptions. Also remember to re-do it every now and then, just to keep track.

2. Live by a Budget!

With the expenses noted a big part of the budgeting leg-work is already done. Creating a budget is a step beyond expense tracking. It’s kind of like planning expenses in advance, so you can figure out the best way to pay off debt or save up/make investments.

Making a budget is simple. Keep in mind it’s not usually possible to be exact. Sometimes you might need a little more fuel than usual, or extra milk/coffee for example, or even get paid more/less. Consider these factors and build in some margin for error.

3. Create an Emergency Fund

On top of small fluctuations in earnings and outgoings, you could experience sudden expenses which are bigger in nature. This could be a car breakdown, or a family emergency.

There are ways to get cash in a hurry, though many of them aren’t your best option. These are often loans which come with high-interest, so you really need to understand the payments and be sure you can afford them. If these options are interesting to you, you can learn more here.

The best option though is to have an emergency fund where you save your extra cash. That way if it’s needed, you can use your own money and there are no drawbacks.

4. Build a Debt Free Lifestyle

Your aim should always be to create some surplus and get rid of all debt. When you have debt, it causes constant stress and you always have to pay back more than you borrowed. This only ever works out if you can create more income with the borrowed money than what you have to pay back.

Outside of that scenario, try to return your balance to the positive and start living a stress-free life!