Dealing with our personal finances can be a sore subject. We avoid them like the plague when we know we won’t like what we see. If we like where we are headed, we tend to forget all the work that got us there. Dealing with your finances should always be an ongoing project. We’ll cover some of the highlights that can help you make sense of your money.
Talk to an investment representative or financial planner. Even though you may not be rolling in dough, or able to throw hundreds of dollars a month into an investment account, something is better than nothing. Seek their advice on the best options for your savings and retirement, and then start doing it today, even if it is only a few dollars a month.
To improve your personal finance habits, be sure to keep a buffer or surplus amount of money for emergencies. If your personal budget is completely taken up with no room for error, an unexpected car problem or broken window can be devastating. Be sure to allocate some money each month for unpredicted expenses.
A little maintenance, such as keeping the proper tire pressure or changing oil and other fluids at proper times, saves a lot of money by preventing damage. Tires and engines last longer and the mechanic may spot other problems while they are still small and relatively easy to repair. Your car runs better, gets better gas mileage and you save money.
If you love to watch movies or play video games, rent these instead of purchasing the disc. This will go a long way in reducing the expenses that you have, while giving you the same level of enjoyment. Renting is a great alternative to help save money on all of your entertainment.
Whenever possible, pay with cash. Carrying cash is a tangible reminder of how much or little money you have remaining, to meet your upcoming needs and expenses. Unlike debit and credit cards, cash is accepted practically everywhere and is perpetually free of annoying surcharges, fees and confusing fine print.
When in doubt about borrowing money-don’t. Interest is extremely expensive, adding up to 20% or even more to your purchases, which is the same as making 20% less money! Wherever possible try to save up for a purchase on your own, and buy it later rather than taking out a loan to get it now.
If you’re trying to start a budget using a program, try to avoid spending with cash. It’s easy to forget about cash purchases and not factor them in, since they’re much more difficult to track with budgeting software. Instead, use debit or credit cards wherever possible to keep your spending visible.
Sometimes one form of a good is just as good but cheaper than another. Frozen vegetables are often a great example; frozen green beans are just as crisp and tasty as fresh green beans, and often more nutritious due to nutrient degradation after travel time, but cost half as much or less, especially during the winter.
Shopping around when making a big purchase is the best way to guarantee that you are getting the most for your money. It is always a good idea to look at several retailers and brands when considering a purchase. You may even want to wait on a big sale to make a purchase to save yourself sometimes hundreds of dollars!
Diversify your investments using mutual funds. It’s difficult and expensive for a small investor to create a diversified portfolio using individual securities, but a no-load mutual fund can provide instant diversification at low cost. You can invest as little as $1000 in a fund that holds anywhere from 20 to several hundred securities, for an annual fee as low as 1%. Diversification helps to lower investment risk by reducing dependence on any one security to provide a favorable return.
Our finances need to be dealt with on a regular basis in order for them to stay on the track that you set for them. Keeping a close eye on how you are using your money will help things stay smooth and easy. Incorporate some of these tricks into your next financial review.