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10 Money-Saving Tips That Most People Often Forget

10 Money-Saving Tips That Most People Often Forget

Growing up, many of us were instructed on the values of saving money and being responsible consumers. Even the best of us, however, tend to forget some of the best ways to exercise excellent frugality, and our bank accounts end up suffering for it.

Below are just a few money-saving tips to keep in mind before you head to the checkout counter. As you read, you may notice that you knew some of these tips already but just forgot about them.

1. Buy used items.

We remember to buy used items with some purchases, like cars and video games. But we usually forget to shop for used items when looking for clothes, electronics, or even furniture. Obviously, this doesn’t apply to perishable items, but utilizing websites such as Craigslist and social media platforms can lead to huge savings for you.

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One of my favorite past times is visiting thrift shops on weekends (even before the song came out) and gauging the prices. When I’m in need of something later on, I know (roughly) how much it’s going for at discount stores.

2. Wait a day before you make a purchase.

This is crucial for big purchases. Impulse buying is a major contribution to why our bank accounts aren’t where they should be, so If you really want to buy something, wait a day or longer and see how you feel then. Chances are that you’ll be less tempted to make the purchase, unless it is something you really need.

3. Buy in bulk.

The guideline for this is simple: if it’s something you know you’ll be using, like toiletries or food items, then save yourself some money by purchasing in bulk. Toilet paper, tissues, toothpaste, and other essential items are great for bulk because you’ll be saving money in the long run without buying things you’ll never use.

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4. Treat yourself once in a while.

The psychology of impulse buying and over-spending is quite complex and interesting, but a lot of it can be curbed by positive reinforcement. Rewarding yourself, sparingly, is a great method for maintaining control of your finances without going overboard. Set rules for yourself, but don’t be afraid to give yourself a break when appropriate.

5. Shop around.

This is a given for some people, but you may be the type of person who falls in love with the first option they see for a purchase. Exercise some financial discipline and visit other stores (or even online) to compare prices and features. You may find that what you were about to drop significant funds for can be found way cheaper, or better, somewhere else.

6. Use cash.

Credit cards, while gloriously convenient, can be exceptionally deceitful. We tend to use them flippantly, not considering the impact they’re really having on our personal finances. If you use cash, however, your subconscious is more likely to feel the pain from losing that money, resulting in a more conscious effort to curb your spending.

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For big purchases, you might find it worthwhile to use money orders for that same reason, and that will help establish a mentality of preparing your finances before making big decisions.

7. Borrow (or buy) from your friends.

Ask around! Friends are a great resource for borrowing essential items such as furniture, kitchen accessories, and more. You may also get a great deal if you buy from your friends, seeing as they’re motivated to help you while also getting a form of compensation, and they may even offer some items for free that they don’t need. Just remember to return the favor.

8. Cook instead of eating out.

We forget this when we opt out of planning our meals. Organize your week by determining when you’ll have time to prepare a meal and stick to it. You can then purchase your groceries for that meal and save a ton of money.

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If time isn’t on your side, try cooking a lot of food on a day with more free-time. You can use this food for dinners and lunches, as long as you freeze what you’ve cooked.

9. Watch Matinees.

Sure, we typically reserve theater visits for weekend dates, but you should also consider watching the matinee in order to save some money, especially if you watch movies every weekend. In some theaters, tickets can actually be up to $5 cheaper for the matinee. For families, that means you’re potentially saving $20 per visit just by watching the same movie a little earlier.

10. Unplug electronics when you’re not using them.

This is a great tip for saving money on your electric bill, especially during winter. Remember that certain electronics can take up a lot of energy, even when they’re turned off. While you’re sleeping and/or at work, make it a habit to unplug the nonessentials, which include kitchen appliances, televisions, and video game consoles. The money you’re saving over the course of just one year can be a staggering amount.

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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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