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5 Mind Tricks To Help Keep More Money In Your Pockets

5 Mind Tricks To Help Keep More Money In Your Pockets

Money, it’s a gas. Or, at least, it runs out as fast as gas does. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, it can be incredibly hard to start up the nest egg you’ve been planning for years. But it’s not impossible. With a few tweaks to your daily spending habits, you’ll find you have more than just spare change in your pockets by Friday evening. If you want to save money, read on.

1. Think of hourly worth

When I was a young adult working at a summer camp, I was always amazed when most of my coworkers would come in with a fresh deli-made bagel, bottle of orange juice, and cup of coffee every morning. We only made around $10 an hour, so those that made this a daily habit had already spent the money they would make in their first hour of every workday before they even got to work.

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If you want to save money, quit the impulse purchases. Every time you want to buy something, think to yourself “How much time would I need to work to pay for this?” If the amount of time absolutely appalls you, put the item back on the shelf and move on.

2. Savor things and experiences

If you add up your daily $3 Starbucks coffee habit over the course of a year, you might be shocked to realize you’re spending anywhere from $700 to $1000 yearly on a drink that lasts you twenty minutes. Your first impulse would be to stop buying the coffee altogether. But what’s the point of living if you can’t enjoy yourself every once in a while? Instead of making it a habit, cut down to once or twice a week. Save your “coffee day” for the rough mornings, rather than getting it all the time because it’s what you normally do. You’ll end up enjoying every sip you take just that much more, knowing you won’t be allowing yourself to have another one until the following week.

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3. Think of time off as lost money

If your boss offers overtime, take it. Chances are you just wanted to go home and relax on the couch for the evening anyway. If you make $15 an hour and get double-time for working longer hours, and your boss offers you two extra hours of work, is it really worth losing $60 to catch the Seinfeld reruns you’ve seen a hundred times? You might not have technically lost any money, but you lost potential money. It’s one thing to have missed opportunities in the past, but to disregard future opportunities that you still have the chance to take advantage of is a complete waste.

4. Spend where it matters

Money is essentially meaningless until you give it meaning. If you have a million dollars in the bank but refuse to touch it, it’s just a number on the computer. But if you have $100 in your pocket and spend it on a romantic dinner with your wife, you’ve spent $100 not just on dinner, but on making a memory that will last long after you finish dessert. A dollar might not go as far as it used to, but since you are free to do with your money as you please, make the most of every penny you earn.

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5. Think of money saved as money earned

Going back to the idea of not spending habitually and splurging on unnecessary items, change the way you think of money saved. It’s one thing to say you “saved” $500 this year by not buying a donut every morning, but you could also look at it as you “earned” $500 this year by not buying a donut every morning. It might not seem like it, but didn’t it take effort to give up that sweet pick-me-up? You were working to give up the habit you had formed, and for your troubles, you earned some extra money in your pocket. Think of how much money smokers could earn if they gave up the disgusting habit! Once you earn this money by giving up something fairly inconsequential, you’ll be free to spend it on the things in your life that actually matter.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm8.staticflickr.com

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Last Updated on January 2, 2019

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

Do you know what mental health experts point to as the biggest cause of stress in the United States today? If you said “money,” then ding, ding, we have a winner!

Three out of four adults today report feeling stressed out about money at least part of the time. People are either worried about not having enough money or whether they’re putting the money they do have to use in the best possible way.

Your money is either in charge of you or you’re in charge of it, there’s no middle ground. Using some type of personal finance software can help alleviate some of that money stress and better allow you to manage your money effectively. Without it, you may just be setting yourself up for constant financial worry. Life is already tough enough and there’s no need to make it more difficult by simply hoping your money issues will all work out in your favor. Hint: they won’t.

This guide will help you to understand how personal finance software can better assist with both accomplishing long term financial goals and managing day-to-day aspects of life.

Whether it’s tracking the savings plan for your child’s college fund or making sure you won’t be in the red with the month’s grocery budget, personal finance software keeps all this information in one convenient place.

What Exactly is Personal Finance Software?

Think of it like the dashboard in your car. You have a speedometer to tell you how fast you’re going, an odometer to tell you how far you’ve traveled, and then other gauges to tell you things like how much gas is in the tank and your engine temperature. Personal finance software is essentially the same thing for your money.

When you install this software on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, it helps to track your money — how much is going in, how much is going out, and its growth. Most personal finance software programs will display your budget, spending, investments, bills, savings accounts, and even retirement plans, levels of debt, and credit score.

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How It Leads to Financial Improvement

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but people who regularly monitor their finances end up wealthier than those who don’t. When you were a kid, keeping track of all of your money in a porcelain piggy bank was pretty easy. As we get older, though, our money becomes spread out across things like car payments, mortgages, retirement funds, taxes, and other investments and debts. All of these things make keeping track of our money a lot more complicated.

Some types of personal finance software can help make things a little less complicated, setting you up to meet financial goals and taking away some of the stress associated with money.

Even if you already have a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) some type of personal finance software can be of great benefit. Whereas CFPs focus on the big picture of your money, they don’t handle the day-to-day aspects that determine your overall financial health.

It’s also not nearly as complicated as you might think and can take out a lot of the tedium that comes with doing everything on an Excel spreadsheet or with a pad and pencil.

Types of Personal Finance Software

When it comes to personal finance software, it generally fits into two categories: tax preparation and money management.

Tax preparation software such as Turbo Tax and H&R Block’s software can help with everything from filing income taxes to IRS rules and regulations and even estate plans. Plus, there’s the benefit of filing online and getting your refund check a lot faster than if you were to mail off your forms after waiting in line at the post office.

For the purpose of this article, however, will be focusing more on the personal finance software that aids with money management.

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Money management personal finance software will help you to see the health of your cash flow, pay down debt, forecast for expenses and savings, track investments, pay bills, and do a host of other things that 30 years ago would have practically required a team of accountants.

When to Use Personal Finance Software

So far we’ve gone over what exactly personal finance software is and how it can be a benefit to your money. The next logical step in this whole equation is determining when it should be used and how is the best way to go about getting started using it.

Below are four of the most common and practical ways to use personal finance software. If all or any of these apply to you and your money, then downloading some type of personal finance software is going to be a smart move.

1. You Have Multiple Accounts

There’s a good chance that when it comes to your money, it’s in more than one place. Sure, you probably have a checking account, but you may also have a savings account, money market account, and retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401k.

If you’re like the average American, you probably have two to three credit cards as well. Fifty percent of Americans also don’t have loyalty to just one bank and spread their money across multiple banks.

Rather than spending hours typing in every detail of every account you have into a spreadsheet, many programs allow you to easily import your account information. This will help to eliminate any mistakes and give you a bird’s eye view of everything at once.

2. You Want to Automate Some or All of Your Payments

Please don’t say that you’re still writing out paper checks and dropping each bill in the mailbox. While it’s noble that you’re doing your part to keep postal workers employed, we’re 18 years into the 21st century and you can literally pay every bill online now.

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There’s no need to log into every account you have and type in your routing number either.

With personal finance software you can schedule automatic payments and transfers between all of your imported accounts. Automatic transfers will help to make sure you have the necessary funds in the right account to ensure all bills are paid on the appropriate date. Late fees are annoying and do nothing but cost you money. It’s time that you said goodbye to them once and for all.

3. You Need to Streamline Your Budget

Perhaps the best feature of personal finance software is that it allows you track everything going in and out of your virtual wallet.

Nearly every brand of personal finance software out there has easy-to-read graphs and charts that allow you track every cent you spend or earn, should you choose. You might be pretty amazed when you see just how much you spent on eating out last month or if you splurged a little more than you should have on Christmas gifts last year.

Every successful business on the planet has a budget and using personal finance software can help you trim the fat on your spending in ways that affect your everyday life.

4. You Have Specific Goals to Meet

Maybe it’s paying off debt or saving for up something like a European vacation. Whatever your financial goal is, whether it’s long-term or short-term, personal finance software programs are one of the savviest ways to go about reaching those goals.

You can do everything from set spending alerts to notify you when you’re over budget to automating what percentage of your paycheck goes to things like retirement investments. The personal finance software that you choose should show you exactly how close you are to hitting those goals at any given time.

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How to Get Started

From AceMoney to Mint and Quicken, there ’s no shortage of personal finance software apps out there. Many of these programs are free to download and will allow you to pay bills, invest, monitor your net worth and credit profile, and even get a loan with the swipe of a finger.

Other programs may only offer you limited services and will require a one-time fee or subscription to unlock all that they offer. These fees can often vary from as little as two dollars to 50 bucks a month.

It’s best to start off with the free version and then gauge whether you’re able to accomplish everything you’d like or if it’s worth exploring one of the paid options. Often times the subscription programs come with assistance from financial planning and investment experts — so that can be a real benefit.

When deciding which personal finance software program to use, it’s also important to look at how many accounts you wish to monitor. Certain programs limit the number of accounts you can add. Be sure that if you have checking, credit card, and investment accounts to monitor, that you choose a service that can monitor them all.

Finally, when looking around for the right personal finance software that meets your needs, make sure that you’re comfortable with the program’s interface. It shouldn’t be expected that you recognize every single feature instantly, but if the features don’t seem readable and manageable to you, then you’re not as likely to use it and get the full benefits.

Final Thoughts

Personal finance software can go a long way in helping you to take control of your money and meeting your financial goals. It’s important to note, however, that some focus more on budgeting and expense tracking while others prioritize investing portfolios and income taxes. Explore several different programs and read reviews to find the one that’s right for you.

In this day and age, managing one’s personal finances in a secure manner that allows the user to have a real-time visual representation of their money is easier than ever before. With the numerous applications that are out there — both free and subscription-based — there’s no reason that every person can’t take control of their money and ensure they’re making smart money moves.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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