The March issue of Real Simple magazine contains a great article by Elizabeth Fenner about solving your biggest money worries. She writes:

For many of us, “manage finances” is right down there with “clean out the basement” on the bottomless to-do list. We put it off until life is less hectic…Well, help is here. Real Simple polled readers on the financial matters that worry them most, then created a completely doable, low-stress action plan for dealing with each irksome issue, from over-spending to underbudgeting.

Fenner tackles six worries. For each she offers advice on what to do now, and steps to take in the long-term. The top-six financial concerns of Real Simple readers?

  1. I spend too much. Arrest your spending by using money hacks: avoid advertising, change our daily habits, and carry just one credit card. (I’d say that if you have spending problems, you should leave them all at home.) Consider a cash-only lifestyle. Read Your Money or Your Life. (And read Free Money Finance.)
  2. I save too little. Set goals! Fund your retirement. Open a savings account and make automatic contributions.
  3. I’m frustrated by high gas prices. Make friends with GasBuddy. Drive a fuel-efficient car, and treat it well.
  4. I don’t know how much to save for retirement. Take advantage of any plans your employer offers, such as a 401(k). Spend some time playing with a retirement calculator.
  5. I need a budget. Fenner shares great advice from my buddy JLP at All Financial Matters: Track every penny you spend. “That’s the only way you’ll know where your money is going,” he says. Sign up for a free online money-tracking program like Wesabe [review], Mint [review], or Quicken Online [preview].
  6. I need to develop a financial plan. Talk to three people you know and admire who are diligent about money, advises Fenner. What else? Read Get Rich Slowly (yay!) and find a fee-only financial planner.

I like that Real Simple is offering solid personal finance advice. (I also like that Fenner mentions three members of the Money Blog Network!) Sometimes I feel like financial education is a losing battle, but articles like this give me hope.

Though the online version of Fenner’s piece captures the core advice, the magazine layout also profiles four women: a frugal giver, a generous mom, a fashion lover, and a recovering shopaholic. A certified financial planner looked at their spending and offered advice on adjusting their budgets. It’s fascinating to see how other people live.

As a side note, I’m grateful for the time Fenner took to speak with me in October about how traditional journalism works. She called to talk to me about frugality, but put up with my questions about writing for magazines.

[Real Simple: Your biggest money worries, solved]

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