It’s not just about paying the bills on time. Being a great money manager means you’ve got your spending habits in check. It means you’re using your money wisely at all times. It’s easy to get carried away with credit cards and clearances, but not to worry. Adulting with your money is hard, but not impossible. These five steps should get you on the right track.

Make A Physical Budget And Stick To It

To make a budget that works, it can’t just be in your head. You actually have to write it all down and not guess about figures. This means you break it down into three categories: must spend (rent and bills), hard not to spend (transportation and groceries), and completely optional (everything else). For the optional category, create a limit and never go past it. This budget should be your absolute guide to all your spending decisions.

Keep Track Of What You Spend

If you don’t keep track of what you spend, what good is your budget? Keep a note pad (physical or digital) where every single purchase is recorded. It might even be helpful to place your purchases in categories, like snacks, restaurants, and video games, for example. This way, you can better see potential problem areas that might lead to you breaking your budget.

Save Up Instead Of Paying Off

When you want something, wait until you have enough money to buy it instead of putting it on credit and paying it off later. Generally speaking, paying it off later means you have to pay interest, which is a waste of money (unless it’s something you truly need). Why not just delay gratification until you’ve actually earned the thing you want? Your bank account will love you for it.

Always Put Some Away

You probably didn’t include things like medical bills and car repairs in your budget, because they don’t occur regularly. However, these expenses come when you least expect them. For that, you should have a healthy savings account. Instead of spending all your money every month, put some of every single paycheck into savings. When an emergency arises, you’ll be in the clear instead of struggling to stay afloat.

Invest Wisely

Investing comes in many forms. It could be education, a house, a retirement savings program, or even the stock market. Whichever way you choose to invest your money, the goal should be creating security for your future. Also, make sure you are investing wisely. Don’t haphazardly put your money into something on a whim. Put some time into studying up on your investment before you make the commitment.