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5 Ways to Get in Control of Your Finances

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5 Ways to Get in Control of Your Finances

It’s easy to lose track of your finances, especially if you’re a busy person or if you’re not quite sure what you’re doing. However, personal finance is a major factor is securing a comfortable life for yourself. It’s important that you understand where your money is going and how it’s being saved. With the proper know-how and techniques, you can save the most efficiently.

Money shouldn’t be a stressor for you. In fact, it can be quite interesting and a little fun to keep track of your income and expenses! Once you see how your money comes in and out, you’ll feel more reassured when spending your money. Here are five ways to get in control of your finances:

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Get Educated on Personal Finance

Personal finance is something that we should all know as adults, but sadly, we’re not always taught it in schools. Or if we are, we easily forget the minor deals that could save us a lot of money in the long run. If you feel that you’re unclear on managing money, whether it’s the basics or a specific aspect, you should brush up on your personal finance knowledge. Now, this doesn’t mean you have to go back to school. The good news is that these days, knowledge is free and readily available online. And with video tutorials, eBooks, and podcasts, knowledge is in the medium of your choice! Find some highly-rated tutorials online and get started.

Use Budgeting Software

Once you are more familiar with the ideas behind personal finance, you should put that knowledge in to practice. Nowadays, there are tons of different programs and apps to help you keep track of what you’re saving and spending. They all have different features, so do a little research before you dive in. Or, try using two alongside each other to see which you prefer. Budgeting is important because it keeps your goals in black-and-white, giving you less of a chance to slip back into bad habits. Even if you aren’t good with computers, you can go the old-fashioned route: a pencil and paper!

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Pay Down Your Debt

It seems everyone has an opinion on personal finance, and even the professionals are all going to have different ideas about how best to save your money. But most will agree that your first priority when getting in control of your finances should be to pay down any outstanding debt you might have. This is because debt accumulates interest, which is compounded, meaning that the longer you wait to pay off your debt, the faster it grows, and the harder it will be to pay off.

Choose a Bank and Credit Card That Work Best for You

While there aren’t many huge differences between banks, each bank will have slightly different features than the other. Perhaps one bank has more ATMs around the city you live in, or perhaps another has a good online banking system and app for your phone. Keep in mind, also, that different banks may offer different interest rates for your bank accounts. Choosing a credit card will offer the same kinds of decisions for you. Some credit cards offer cash back or frequent flyer miles in return for you using their card. Read up on on the different banks and credit cards to find out what best fits your interests.

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Be Frugal

Frugal, despite common belief, does not mean “poor.” It means spending your money as wisely as possible. Experts will tell you that you should always live below your means. How you choose to be frugal is up to you. Perhaps that means living in a home that has a cheaper rent or mortgage. Or perhaps you should aim to spend less on entertainment each month. If you have a budget and are keeping track of how you spend your money, you should be able to figure out where you can best cut your spending. Additionally, online coupons and vouchers can help you save on your monthly expenses.

Personal finance isn’t always easy, and there will be times when something doesn’t make sense. Don’t give up! The result will make all the trouble worth it. And if you follow these tips, you’ll have a solid foundation for getting back on your financial feet.

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Featured photo credit: 20 Best Personal Finance Books You Should Read Now via lifehack.org

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Last Updated on January 5, 2022

33 Painless Ways to Save Money Now

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33 Painless Ways to Save Money Now

In a difficult economy, most of us are looking for ways to put more money in our pockets, but we don’t want to feel like misers. We don’t want to drastically alter our lifestyles either. We want it fast and we want it easy. Small savings can add up and big savings can feel like winning the lottery, just without all of the taxes.

Some easy ways to save money:

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  1. Online rebate sites. Many online sites offer cash back rebates and online coupons as well. MrRebates and Ebates are two I like, but there are many others.
  2. Sign up for customer rewards. Many of your favorite stores offer customer rewards on products you already buy. Take advantage.
  3. Switch to compact fluorescent bulbs. The extra cost up front is worth the energy savings later on.
  4. Turn off power strips and electronic devices when not in use.
  5. Buy a programmable thermostat. Set it to lower the heat or raise the AC when you’re not home.
  6. Make coffee at home. Those lattes and caramel macchiatos add up to quite a bit of dough over the year.
  7. Switch banks. Shop around for better interest rates, lower fees and better customer perks. Don’t forget to look for free online banking and ease of depositing and withdrawing money.
  8. Clip coupons: Saving a couple dollars here and there can start to add up. As long as you’re going to buy the products anyway, why not save money?
  9. Pack your lunch. Bring your lunch to work with you a few days a week, rather than buy it.
  10. Eat at home. We’re busier than ever, but cooking meals at home is healthier and much cheaper than take-out or going out. Plus, with all of the freezer and pre-made options, it’s almost as fast as drive-thru.
  11. Have leftovers night. Save your leftovers from a few meals and have a “leftover dinner.” It’s a free meal!
  12. Buy store brands: Many generic or store brands are actually just as good as name brands and considerably cheaper.
  13. Ditch bottled water. Drink tap water if it’s good quality, buy a filter if it’s not. Get 
      a reusable water bottle and refill it.
    • Avoid vending machines: The items are usually over-priced.
    • Take in a matinee. Afternoon movie showings are cheaper than evening times.
    • Re-examine your cable bill. Cancel extra cable or satellite channels you don’t watch. Watch the “on demand” movie purchases too.
    • Use online bill pay. Most banks offer free online bill paying. Save on stamps and checks, and avoid late fees by automating bill payment.
    • Buy frequently used items in bulk. You get a lower per item price and eliminate extra trips to the store later on.
    • Fully utilize the library. Borrowing books is much cheaper than buying them, but in addition to books, most local libraries now lend movies and games.
    • Cancel magazine/newspaper subscriptions: Re-evaluate your subscriptions. Cancel those you don’t read and consider reading some of the other publications online.
    • Get rid of your land-line. Do you really need a land-line anymore if everyone in the family has a cell phone? Alternatively, look into using VOIP or getting a cheaper plan.
    • Better fuel efficiency. Check the air pressure in your tires, keep up with proper auto maintenance, and slow down. Driving even 5MPH slower will result in better fuel mileage.
    • Increase your deductibles. Increasing the insurance deductibles on your homeowners and auto insurance policies lowers premiums significantly. Just make sure you choose a deductible that you can afford should an emergency happen.
    • Choose lunch over dinner. If you do want to dine out occasionally, go at lunchtime rather than dinnertime. Lunch prices are usually cheaper.
    • Buy used:  Whether it’s something small like a vintage dress or a video game or something big like a car or furniture, consider buying it used. You can often get “nearly new” for a fraction of the cost.
    • Stick to the list. Make a list before you go shopping and don’t buy anything that’s not on the list unless it’s a once in a lifetime, killer deal.
    • Tame the impulse. Use a self-enforced waiting period whenever you’re tempted to make an unplanned purchase. Wait for a week and see if you still want the item.
    • Don’t be afraid to ask. Ask to have fees waived, ask for a discount, ask for a lower interest rate on your credit card.
    • Repair rather than replace. You can find directions on how to fix almost anything on the internet. Do your homework, and then bring out your inner handyman.
    • Trade with your neighbors. Borrow tools or equipment that you use infrequently and swap things like babysitting with your neighbors.
    • Swap online. Use sites like PaperBack Swap to trade books, music, and movies with others online. Also, look for local community sites like Freecycle where people give away items they no longer need.
    • Cut back on the meat. Try eating a one or two meatless meals every week or cut back on the meat portions. Meat is usually the most expensive part of the meal.
    • Comparison shop: Get in the habit of checking prices before you buy. See if you can get a better price at another store or look online.

    Remember that saving money is not about being cheap or stingy; it’s about putting money into your bank account rather than giving it to someone else. There are many ways to save money, some you’ve never thought of, and some that won’t appeal or apply to you. Just pick a few of the ideas that sound doable and watch the savings add up. Save big, save small, but save wherever you can.

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    Featured photo credit: Damir Spanic via unsplash.com

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