When it comes to managing finances, most people would probably receive an F. The truth is, many of us were never taught the basics of money, how it works, and how to handle it. Here are some tips to help get you on your way to better money management.
Handling Your Money
Invent games to play with your money. For example, set aside certain bills or coins and see how long you can keep a $20 (or whatever denomination you choose) without breaking it for gum, a magazine, or some other frivolous item. Have a spare change jar and empty it into your savings account each month. At the end of every day, empty out your wallet and put the change in your jar. Don’t limit it to just coins, toss in those few bills that are lingering in there as well.
Never spend a windfall. Take your income-tax refund (which should be minimal, if you follow the tip below), money gifts, bonuses, rebates, overpayment refunds and any other unexpected money and put it into your savings or investments. Make this money earn money for you.
Use direct deposit and automatic withdrawals to move money out of your checking account into savings or investments on a regular basis, such as every paycheck. You will learn to live on less when you think you have less to spend. Fool yourself into saving.
Avoid Overpayments and Fees
Don’t give the government a free loan by overpaying your taxes. Every time you get a refund from the IRS that is a sign that you overpaid your taxes and gave the government an interest-free loan for up to a year. Adjust your withholding allowances and try to get your refund down to less than $100. Your paycheck may go up a bit in the mean time so be sure to put that extra money in the bank for future purchases or emergency savings.
Avoid unnecessary fees. ATM fees, service charges, and late fees all add up to quite a bit over the course of a year. These fees are rarely worth the reason they were charged. A little planning/budgeting can usually circumvent these fees. Also avoid insurance charges when renting a car. Most credit cards have car rental insurance as a feature of the card. Check with your card issuer for the terms and conditions of rental car insurance.
Keep your checkbook and accounts balanced. You should always have a pretty good idea of how much money is available in your account. Purposely writing bad checks can land you in jail. Inadvertently writing them can sack you with overdraft fees from your bank as well as returned check fees from the store or company you wrote the bad check to.
Buy on sale as often as possible. When you want something wait a week to see if it is going to come on sale. Or ask the store when the item will be on sale. Buy clothing out of season for the best bargains.
Haggle. You never know when someone will be willing to lower their prices or throw in something extra. Just ask. It may be hard to find a person who can make a pricing decision but when you do, give it a try and see what happens.
Throw away your mail order catalogs. Don’t even look at them. Looking leads to wanting and wanting to buying. Most catalog purchases go on your credit cards and that is the last place where you want to rack up debt for what is usually more junk. Remove yourself from their mailing lists (which lists are often shared with other mail order companies). In addition, when filling out customer response cards (such as for warranties, etc.) give only the basic information they need such as name and address; skip the “getting to know you” questions. The answers to those questions are farmed out to mail order companies, increasing your junk mail even more.
Use coupons, apply for free samples, stock up on sales (if you have some extra money to do so), shop discount stores, day-old bakeries/items. Buy store-brand over name-brand items. Forgo brand loyalty in favor of better prices. For the most part, the most expensive part of a product is its packaging, so don’t be swayed by fancy designs in beautiful colors.
Shop less frequently. Each time you go to the store, you increase your chances of purchasing an impulse item. Try to limit your grocery shopping to once a week and prepare a list beforehand and stick to your list. You’ll be amazed at how much this little tip can save!
Investing the time to learn how better to manage your money is an important step toward gaining financial freedom. Improving money handling, avoiding unnecessary payment of fees, and shopping more wisely are all integral parts of better money management. Take the time to implement some of these tips and watch your money grow!
About the author
© Simple Joe, Inc.
Chemain Evans is a quality control specialist for Simple Joe, Inc., makers of the popular Simple Joe’s Expense Tracker PC software. Expense Tracker is a quick and simple way to keep track of your expenses and stay within your budget. Expense Tracker is ideal for tracking personal, business, home and club expenses. This article may be freely distributed as long as the copyright, author’s information and an active link (where possible) are included.