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Everybody wants to be better about spending and to be smarter financially. It’s one of the most popular resolutions that gets made every year—its right up there with losing weight and getting in shape. Of course, it’s one thing to say that you want to be smarter financially in the year to come. It’s entirely another to know how to do it.
Start with your existing bank accounts. Are you getting the high savings interest rates? Does your account allow for compound interest (interest made off of interest earned)? This is something that you should definitely find out if you don’t already know it and, if you aren’t getting the best rates, switch to a better rate immediately. Some banks will also offer checking accounts that pay interest though those typically come with a minimum balance requirement.
Note: Once you have that savings account with the amazing interest rate you actually have to put money in it. You can’t earn interest on nothing.
You might find yourself thinking one thing: “get credit card.” Some people are afraid of the debt that a credit card can build up; however, if you know how to use one (yes, there are correct ways to have a credit card), having one can be largely beneficial to you and your finances. If you do already have one (or several), get a new one with a really great interest rate on balance transfers. Then, transfer all of your existing card balances to your new card. This will save you hundreds of dollars in interest over the next year (many of these cards offer 0% interest for the first twelve months on balance transfers) and help you improve your credit rating as you pay the balance down each month on time.
Note: Make sure you can pay off the accumulated balance before the deal runs out or you’ll wind up having to pay all of that interest anyway.
Put the charge cards you have AWAY. You want to keep one (preferably with the highest limit and the lowest interest rate) nearby in case of an emergency but nearby does not mean your wallet. Having the card in your wallet makes it far harder to resist temptation when you want to buy something fun but don’t have the money in your checking account. Keep this card and one other (the one with the lowest interest rate) open. Close all of the other accounts. This way you won’t have that temptation calling to you every time you feel like going shopping to cheer yourself up.
You probably already know how to set up a budget; you’re probably just bad at following it. So, instead of just thinking about the numbers use the “envelope system” to help you stay within your means (having only cash in specially-marked envelopes for things like “groceries” and “gas”). This way you are only spending what you know you have and won’t be tempted to fudge things “just a bit” or “just this once.”
Note: Put money away in that savings account we talked about before you distribute it to your envelopes. Then, at the end of the month, take any cash that’s left over and put that into your savings account as well.
These are just three tips that will help you become more financially responsible (and solvent if all goes well) in the new year. What other ways can you think of that will help you stay on track?