Have You Had Your Financial Check-Up?|GUEST COMMENTARY

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    planning and management. We talk about it. My boys understand the concept of managing money and realize that they have to save (savings account), before discretionary spending (pulling money from the piggy bank for a Wii cartridge). Despite today’s challenging economy, things really haven’t changed much when it comes to the basic fundamentals for achieving economic independence.

    The same way our parents managed every dime with purpose, we should model that behavior.

    Mastering your finances starts with organization and goals. Whether you are thinking about purchasing a home or an investment property, saving for college, building wealth, or simply going on a vacation, you have to start with a plan. To begin, clearly lay out what money you have coming in, and what you have going out. A simple technique I’ve used is writing down every dollar you spend for a month. That helps you see where the money is going so you can prioritize and, perhaps, make adjustments. For me, that was limiting that daily trip to the coffee shop for a chai tea latte to once or twice a week (saving myself $50 each month) – and I didn’t wait for Lent to make that change. Once you have this insight, create an itemized budget.

    Next, be deliberate about thoroughly combing through your expenses and transactions, and regularly reconciling your budget.

    If you find that you have more disposable income than projected, resist the temptation to reward yourself. Instead, consider applying more funds toward paying down debt, or to your savings or 401(k) plan.

    And finally, enrich yourself. Study. Take advantage of resources designed to help you to become savvier about things like budgeting, saving, investing and building wealth for life after retirement. Wells Fargo offers a variety of free, online tools that can help you along your journey toward financial success. Visit http://www.wellsfargo.com/

    aspirations for more information.

    Michelle Thornhill is senior vice president, Diverse Segments for Wells Fargo & Company. Visit http://www.wellsfargo.com/aspirations for more information.

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