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5 Great Tips to Improve your Personal Finances

5 Great Tips to Improve your Personal Finances

In this day and age, if you have money you have everything. ‘Money cannot buy happiness’ is quite a debatable statement. Anyways, you need money to survive and obviously if you dream to spend a luxurious life. It is well proven that saving will not multiply your money, investment will. Make sure you find out multiple ways to secure your future. This is where the ‘personal finances’ comes into play. Personal finances refer to money management and how your future is planned. Improving your financial health will spare you stress later. With small investment efforts, you can secure a favorable future ahead of you. Here are some ways in which you can improve your personal finances:

Create and maintain your budget

Make sure your finances are organized. Manage them using tools available offline and online. Keep track on where your money goes. Evaluate and analyze your net worth frequently. Your net worth is a representation of where you currently stand. This will fluctuate often with time and disturbances in the market. Tracking your financial standing will help you evaluate your progress and highlight the areas which require improvement. Create a personal budget. Figure out what your expenses are and prioritize your spending. Manage your expenses into categories like education, housing, food, utilities, transportation and savings. Learn to manage your money. If you have money left over after all your expenses, decide how to use them. Utilize it wisely.

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Have savings

You should have enough money saved at all the times to face unforeseen emergencies. Start saving for your retirements as soon as possible. You never know which turn your life might take. Be prepared for the worst at all times. Reinvest your earnings as a method of saving. The longer the investment is going to be, the greater will be the return. If you are working for a company and earn a salary each month, keep a check on provident funds. Check your pf balance on a regular basis. The sooner you start your saving plans, the easier it will be for you to reach your long-term financial goals. Consequently you will also have to save less each month.

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Recognize lifestyle inflation

The more you earn, the more you spend money. This is the general trend followed by most people. This phenomenon is known as lifestyle inflation. If you spend excessively, it will damage your long-term wealth. People usually have the desire to keep up with the ‘elite’ society. If the world dines in excessively expensive restaurants, you might be pressured to do the same as well. However, this can cost you a lot in the long run. As you start to earn more, some increase in spending is normal to enhance your social and professional lifestyle, but extravagance is not a positive indication.

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Identify your needs and your wants

Make sure you have drawn the line between your needs and your wants so you can make better decisions when spending. Needs are those things that you must have in order to survive like food and shelter, whereas wants are your desires that are not required for your survival. Make sure that your choices are clear. You can get an economical car rather than buying an expensive BMW because both will serve the same purpose. Prioritize your needs. Once your needs are satisfied then consider the possibility of achieving your wants if it seems reasonable to do so according to your budget.

Secure emergency funds

As mentioned above, you never know what might happen next. Dedicate some amount of your income to emergency funds. Ensure that you are able to fight with unexpected expenses.

Featured photo credit: Vitaly via unsplash.com

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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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