In honor of Financial Literacy Month, we created a microsite that offers 30 simple steps to financial wellness--one for each day of the month. To enrich the experience, we asked some amazing people to guest post during the month on a topic that is related to the day’s step. Their dedication to financial literacy is truly inspiring! Today, Jim from Bargaineering discusses how to make your money count.
In our uncertain economic time, it's very important to take stock of what you have and that includes your income. Much like how you got a clearer picture of your finances when you reviewed your credit history and credit score, reviewing your income and your income sources will be very important in establishing a baseline so you can make smart money decisions going forward.
If you are currently working, the largest source of monthly income will be from your job. The easiest place to look for that information is on your paycheck. Your paycheck will tell you your gross income for that pay period. If you're paid monthly, then you have the numbers you need for the income worksheet. If you're paid every two weeks or every week, you will need to do some math so that you get an even and reliable monthly figure. If you are paid every two weeks, multiple all the numbers by 26 (there are 52 weeks in a year, so you're paid 26 times a year) and then by 12 (the number of months in a year). This will give you monthly figures you can use in the income worksheet. If you are paid weekly, multiple it by 52 and then divide by 12.
If you have multiple jobs, you will want to combine all the numbers you get and fill out that chart.
If you have some irregular income from side jobs you may do, you can add that under Additional Periodic Income.
When you're done, you should have a good picture of how much money you put into your pocket each month from all of your hard work. This is important because when you go to create your budget, you will want to ensure that your total spending is less than your total income. If you spend more than you earn, then you're going in the wrong direction. You'll only know that if you do the homework up front and figure out how much you earn.
Jim Wang is the the founder and editor of Bargaineering.com. The site has been cited numerous times in well-known publications such as The New York Times, Business Week, and appeared on American Public Media’s Marketplace Money national radio program.