The state of the economy is forcing many families to take a long, hard, look at their wallets. Focusing on spending and saving may feel frustrating, but taking good care of your personal finances will only benefit you in the long run. Here are some great personal finance tips to help get you started.
Save money by packing your lunch for work instead of going out to a restaurant. You can easily spend $10 to $15 per meal every time you go out for lunch. That can add up to a significant amount of money every month. If you pack your lunch, you would be surprised at how quickly you can save up for that big expense item.
Spread your purchases across several credit cards instead of using one that is nearing your credit balance limit. Two payments will have lower interest than one high payment. This should not have as bad an impact on your score as a maxed card would. You could possibly help your score through managing the cards wisely.
A major indicator of your financial health is your FICO Score so know your score. Creditors use the FICO Scores to decide how risky it is to give you credit. Each of the three major credit bureaus, Transunion, Equifax, and Experian, assigns a score to your credit record. That score goes up and down depending on your credit usage and payment history over time. A good FICO Score makes a huge difference in the interest rates you can get when buying a home or car. Check out your score before any major purchases to make sure it is a true reflection of your credit history.
If you generally keep at least a few thousand dollars in your checking account, consider opening up a new account with a well-known online bank. Unlike many physical banks, certain online institutions offer high-interest checking accounts that can actually earn money on your balance. Some also offer reduced fees for ATM or debit card usage as well.
Jump start your saving efforts by immediately setting aside even the smallest amount possible and depositing it in a piggy bank, jar, or coffee can. Resist the urge to constantly count your savings as it may lead to discouragement in the earliest days. The trick is simply to make regular contributions and eliminate withdrawals.
Maintain your income tax records on a daily basis so that you don’t have to locate or compile financial documentation at the last minute. You can organize all of your insurance documents, receipts, healthcare statements, and anything else you have that is important so they are easily available come tax time.
One of the best ways to stretch your budget is to stop smoking cigarettes. Who can afford to pay almost the equivalent of the minimum hourly wage for a pack of cigarettes that you will go through in less than day? Save that money! Stop smoking and you’ll save even more money in long term health expenses!
Look for coupons online, and clip coupons from your local newspaper. You can save more money sometimes buying a name brand and using coupons, than you can when buying from discount stores and purchasing generic products. This is not always the case, but it is worth taking the extra time to check it out.
It is very important to set goals and stick with them. Don’t just budget! Automatically make your savings your top priority. Once you save and are committed to doing so, you can make sure that you save even when the money is hard to come by. What a principle to consider!
If you’re opening up a savings account to put your emergency money, always look for a low-risk account, like a high-yield account. Here’s an oversimplification: The bank spends your money and then pays it back with interest, but your money is also guaranteed to be there. It’s a win-win situation.
While no one wants to cut back on their spending, this is a great opportunity to develop healthy spending habits. Even when your financial situation improves, these tips will help you take care of your money and keep your finances stable. It’s tough to change the way you deal with money, but it’s worth the extra effort.