Finances got you down? Money is stressful, if you have it, making sure you can continue to grow, or if you don’t have it, worrying about how you will make ends meeting and get ahead. No matter what your current status is, we can all improve our personal finance situation. With a few helpful hints, you can maximize savings, reduce unnecessary expenses, and continue to build up your family nest egg that you can enjoy living out your golden years.
Join a Credit Union
I joined a credit union a few years ago, and I have never looked back since. I was tired of paying monthly “maintenance fees” or charges when balances feel below the minimum standard, that I opened an account with a credit union where there are absolutely no fees. Also, I was given a great rate on my home refinance, so I am saving far more each month than I ever did with the big banks.
Save Loose Change
Sure, it may seem like an adult piggy bank of sort, but think about where you put your loose change? In your car, in a box on top of your dresser, a drawer in the kitchen? We don’t use cash as much these days but when you do get a few extra pennies, put them in a place to build up and buy something nice when it finally builds up to enough. If you want to save electronically, you could always move the extra change in your checking account to a savings account.
Keep Important Documents in One Place
Our lives are so busy and cluttered that whenever important documents come in the mail or are printed, we tend to just throw them anywhere, or in the garbage even, so it is nice to have a place to keep important documents, whether it is a safe or just a filing cabinets. This way you will have anything you need from your personal file collection at your fingertips, and it is nice to be organized during tax season for easy preparation (or during an unfortunate audit).
Check Your Credit
If you have not checked your credit within the past year, now would be the time to drop everything and review. The major credit bureaus offer a free copy of your credit report once a year, so you can review to ensure personal information and accounts and accurate. These reports will not have your score; however, most online credit start statements will offer your score for free. It can take a while to clear up and reflect on your report, so if there are any inaccuracies, now is the time to fix.
Get the Best Rewards Credit Card You Can
I belong to Costco and have used their rewards card from AMEX to now Citi, and because the rewards are so great, I use all of my purchases on the card and let the rewards dollars pile up. This year I just received a check for just under $600, just from cashback from using my card, so it is nice to get a lump sum of free money every year, just for using once card for all normal purchases.
Share Financial Burden with Family
Just because you pay the bills every month does not mean that you have to feel the entire weight of the household on your shoulders. Bring your significant other in at least monthly to discuss where you stand on balances, and be on the same page for financial goals. This would be a good time to discuss any tweaking needed to the budget, if it seems one person is spending more than they should, getting help if it’s you.
Build an Emergency Fund
In the event of an unfortunate job loss, or more likely, auto repair or an appliance that needs to be replaced, it would be nice to be able to use an emergency fund instead of having to put on a credit card and set you back a few months trying to pay off. Experts say that you should have an account with three to six months’ worth of expenses on hand in case.
Maximize Retirement Account
You should review each quarterly statement you receive to ensure your precious retirement funds are performing to their expectations or if they need to be reallocated. If you have not been contributing as much as you should, try raising a percentage of your pay, or at least getting to where your company matches, as you could just be leaving money on the table.