Here are a few tips that can really add up!
1. Set a monthly budget. When you create a monthly spending budget it reveals weak points where you may need to make some adjustments. Have you added up how much you spend on lattes each month?! This can add up to easily over $100 a month. A budget is the only real way to assess your finances and develop better habits.
2. Get out of debt. Sure it’s easier said than done but the interest rates on your credit card balance are costing you big time. The average person carries between a $3,000-$7,000 balance depending on which study you look at. The longer you stretch out those payment the more you are paying in interest.
3. Avoid ATM fees. Be aware of the ATM withdrawal fees charged by your bank. While some banks waive fees for all ATM transactions on any ATM machine, most don’t. Also, most machines charge an additional fee so getting your $20 might cost you $5 in fees! That is a 25% fee!! Only use your banks ATM or get cash back from a grocery store by buying a few things you need and get cash back.
4. Brown bag lunch. Start once a week if you need to, then work it up to more days a week. Not only can it save you money monthly but it is often more healthy too. That’s a win – win situation!
5. Create an emergency savings account. Fewer than 1 in 4 Americans have adequate emergency savings and many have none at all. Setting up an automatic transfer monthly to a savings account is easy and painless. Having emergency reserves can help you avoid reaching for the credit card during emergencies.
6. If possible, ride your bike to work. Or to the grocery store, or any errand. It saves money on gas and is great for your health. In fact, it might help reduce medical costs in the future by shedding a few pounds and getting healthy!
7. Get a programmable thermostat. Program it to lower temperatures when you are away at work and slightly lower at night. The savings can really add up, especially in the winter months.
8. Plan your meals and eat out only occasionally. Similar to the brown bag idea, plan some meals each week. This can help with the “we don’t have anything in the fridge, let’s go out!” temptation. It also can save a significant amount of money.
9. Consider a rewards card. If you regularly pay off your credit card, a rewards card might be best for you. Whether cash back or airline miles, you can earn points for every dollar spent. Shop around to find the best rewards for your goals and be sure to pay off the debt each month to maximize the rewards.
10. Set realistic financial goals. You’re more likely to reach your goals if you define them. Whether you’re trying to buy a house or pay off some credit cards, create a plan of action that you can stick with throughout the year.
P.S. We hope you have a prosperous and Happy New Year in 2014!
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