Handling the household finances is not an easy task, one that should not be handled alone. Whether you share the finances with a significant other, as it’s important to keep them in the loop at all times, or you are on your own, it can still be wise to bring in a family member or friend that you trust to ensure you’re making the right financial moves. While you can take the advice of a financial advisor for the important decisions, it’s a few behaviors that you can maintain on a daily basis that will not only get you ahead and hopefully break the burden of living paycheck to paycheck, but to set yourself up for success in the future, with the ultimate goal of retirement in mind.
Check Your Credit Report
While it may not save you money right away, but certainly over time, staying on top of your credit report by at least checking once a year for free from the major credit bureaus is a great way to make sure that all of your accounts are accurate. With the amount of fraud occurring everywhere you look, whether it’s at the gas pump or leaving your card out paying a bar tab, not to mention even out of your control when a retailer gets compromised, you can never assume that you’re safe anymore from potential fraud. On a monthly basis going forward you can review your credit score on credit card statements to make sure that your score is on the rise, while being able to take advantage of the best interest rates on the market, saving you the most money over time.
Build Up an Emergency Account
Much like sometimes having fraud out of your control, you especially never know what life will throw your way. You can think you’re getting ahead one month and then all of a sudden, your car needs major repair, a home appliance breaks down on you, or even worse, you have a sudden job-loss. No matter the situation, it’s better to have a buffer so you don’t have to put on a credit card and risk going into long-term debt. By saving up a few months’ worth of reserves, you can be sure you have the available cash if a large unexpected purchase were to come up.
Pay Attention to All Purchases
Speaking of purchases, while it’s common sense that you should have more money coming in than going out, but it doesn’t always work out that way, especially if you don’t pay attention to what you’re spending. By taking a look at last month’s statement on the card you use, you can first see what your spending, and then from there, just for fun, add up all of the purchases that probably could have been avoided and see what that adds up to. It could be scary how much extra you could have saved by being a little more disciplined and reducing unnecessary purchases.
Sure, honing in on spending is important, but what about some of the monthly bills that were at the time “necessary”, at which these can actually be reviewed and probably even cut. Take the gym membership that you’re currently paying for but not going as often as you could. Next, look at cable. While it may be a regular part of your life, think about how many of the channels you actually watch, live and not on DVR, and if you’re currently paying for a streaming service on top of that. By cutting cable and just going with a streaming service or two, you could save a significant amount every year and you may not even realize it’s gone. Finally, while this may be the most difficult, but avoiding going out to eat and instead going grocery shopping and preparing meals at home is probably where you’ll find the best lift, not to mention live a healthier lifestyle eating at home and will watch the pounds come off.
Don’t Miss Out on Free Money
With all of this spending that is occurring, you don’t want to miss out on any free money that you can get your hands on. While sure, coupons are still important, as you can load digital coupons to your grocery shopper’s reward card to save at the register or gas pump, getting a rewards credit card where you can earn points or even cashback on the purchases that you were going to make anyways is where you could see hundreds of free dollars add up over the course of the year.