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10 Ways To Stay Accountable With Your Money and Finances

10 Ways To Stay Accountable With Your Money and Finances

Budgeting is more than simply allocating money for monthly expenses. People who know how to budget have a systematic way of handling money. Aside from regulating their spending, frugal people often have their finances planned in advance.

However, sticking to a financial plan isn’t as easy as it may seem. Many of us quit our budget plans the moment we mess up our finances. We give up after a month or two of recording and track expenditures. Is there an easy way to track your budget and finances? Here are ten simple points to remember:

1. Think Strategically

What is the whole point of making a budget? When making your budget, always remember that it’s there to help keep you out of debt. The goal of your budget is to create a better  future that will give you more financial freedom.

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2. Set Financial Goals

Is there a project you want to save for this year? What financial goals can you set to make this project happen? When creating goals, make sure you’ve both set up short and long term plans. There are a lot of money management apps out there that can help you allocate your money easily.

3. Prepare for Emergencies

Always have an emergency fund. When things aren’t going well, an emergency fund can save you from debt and stress. Prepare in case of medical emergencies, layoffs, or divorce. Proper preparation assures that you have money for what’s important to you.

4. Limit Budget

When you are too comfortable with your budget, you find it easier to slip into overspending. Try to limit everything to a fair calculation. Don’t give yourself a lot of money to spend for things you don’t even need.

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5. Set Boundaries

Lending money to friends and family members are sometimes the cause of money shortage. So before you decide to lend money, make sure you have your own finances in order first. There is always a possibility that your money won’t be given back by a friend or family member.

6. Take Away Options That Make You Cheat Your Budget

Stop carrying credit cards if you are prone to buy impulsively. Instead, carry cash all the time. Quit browsing on your favorite online shops if you are out of money. You can block the site if you find yourself compulsively checking it out. On this same note, you can also create visual reminders that will help you remember your goals. For example, you can display a note to remind yourself to stay on budget.

7. Find Like–Minded Groups

Find a friend, support group, or online friends who are determined to keep their finances planned just like you. Having a finance buddy could help you to stick with your goals and stay accountable. You and your penny-wise buddy can even exchange spreadsheets (within reason) and evaluate spending.

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8. Build A Reward System

Don’t forget to give yourself rewards for a job well done! Staying faithful to your financial plan for a month is a big deal, that’s why you should give yourself a pat on the back. Find an inexpensive activity or item that will fit as a pleasurable reward for you.

9. Track Your Spending

Track where your money goes. This technique will help you stay accountable and on budget. There are many apps that can help you manage your expenses like Money Manager, Mint, and Good Budget.

10. Schedule A Periodic Budget Evaluation

Don’t forget to evaluate. Monitor how you are doing with your finances. What are the factors that prevent you from staying on budget? What categories can you tweak to create a better and more accountable financial plan? Set aside a specific time or the day or week to make sure you’re not overspending.

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Conclusion

Knowing a lot about finances and money management can help you create a debt free future. So invest in yourself but avoid instant gratification. Spend your time getting tips and advice from financially-savvy people. You can even hire an accountability expert or a financial advisor if you find it hard to do on your own. Ultimately in finance, the more you know about money, the better you’ll be at managing it.

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Armela Escalona

Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on March 4, 2019

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

Many people will suggest that the best thing to do with your credit cards during these tough economic times is to cut them up with a pair of scissors. Indeed, if you are already in huge debt, you probably should stop using them and begin a payback strategy immediately. However, if you are not currently in trouble with your credit cards, there are wise ways to use them.

I happen to really love my credit cards so I will share with you my approach to how I use mine without getting into deep financial trouble.

Ever since about 1983 when I got my first Visa card, I continue to charge as many of my purchases as possible on credit. Everything from gas, groceries and monthly payments for services like my cable and home security monitoring are charged on credit. Despite my heavy usage, I have maintained the joy of never paying any interest fees at all on any of my credit cards.

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Here are some tips on how best to use your credit cards without falling into the trap of paying those nasty double-digit interest fees.

Do Not Treat Credit Cards as Your Funding Sources

Too many people treat their credit cards as funding sources for major purchases. Do not do this if you want to stay out of trouble. I use my credit cards as convenient financial instruments so I do not have to carry around much cash. In fact, I hate carrying cash, especially coins. When you buy things on credit, the purchases are clean and you will not get annoying coins back as change.

I do not rely on my Visa, MasterCard or American Express to fund any of my purchases, large or small. This brings me to my golden rule when it comes to whether I will pull out any of my credit cards either at a retail or online store.

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I never purchase anything with my credit cards if I do not have the actual cash on hand in my bank account.

If I really cannot pay for the item or service with cash that I already have at the bank, then I simply will not make the purchase. Remember, my credit cards are not used as funding sources. They are just convenient alternatives to actual cash in my pocket.

Make Sure to Always Pay Off Balances in Full Each Month

The next very important part of my overall strategy is to make absolutely sure that I pay the balances in full each and every month no matter how large they are. This should never be a problem if the cash has been budgeted for my purchases and secured in the bank. I have always paid my full balances each month ever since my very first credit card and this is why I never pay interest charges.

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Using Credit Cards with Rewards

Most of my credit cards are of the “no annual fees” type, including one MasterCard on a separate account I keep at home as a spare in case I lose my wallet or incur any fraudulent charges. However, I do use a main Visa card which does have an annual fee because all purchases on that card reward me with airline frequent flyer points. For me, the annual fee is worth it since I do travel and I get enough points to redeem many free flights.

You have to decide for yourself if you will charge enough purchases on credit each year without paying interest charges to warrant a credit card that rewards you with airline points (or other rewards). In my case, the answer is “yes” but that might not be the case for you.

I occasionally use a MasterCard or American Express card on small purchases just to keep those accounts active. Also, I have been to the odd retailer that accepted only a certain type of credit card, so I find that having one from each major company is quite handy. Aside from my main Visa card which earns the airline points, the rest of my cards are of the “no annual fees” variety.

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So this is how I use my credit cards without getting into any financial trouble with them. This strategy is recommended only if you are not in debt, of course. In fact, it is worth keeping in mind once you’re out of debt so that you can keep your credit cards active and treat them responsibly.

What are your credit card usage strategies? Let me know in the comments — I’d love to hear what methods you use.

Featured photo credit: Artem Bali via unsplash.com

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