It's a new year, with a new chance to get your finances under control. These tips will help you regulate your spending, manage your personal finances and take control of your financial life. Getting this done can help you now and years into the future.
Balance Your Budget
Balancing your budget is one of the best ways to get your financial situation under control. Start by reviewing your spending habits. Look through your checking account and credit card history through the last year, and divide your purchases into categories (food, clothing, rent, etc), then determine how much you're spending—and on what category—each month.
Set a goal to reduce your monthly spending down to an amount of your choice, then determine how much can be spent in each category to meet your goal. Start tracking your purchases and tabulating your spending each week. When you start to go over in one category of spending, make reductions in other categories to ensure your budget balances properly.
Guard Yourself Against Identity Theft
Identity theft can be costly in more ways than one. Victims of identity theft can struggle for years to recover their good credit, and in the mean time, many of them struggle to get good rates when borrowing money and making big purchases.
To protect yourself against identity theft, follow these tips:
- Shred old bills and documents with sensitive information.
- Change your passwords regularly.
- Sign up to receive regular credit reports, and correct errors or investigate problems right away.
- Never log in to checking accounts, credit cards and other financial accounts using public WiFi.
Become a Savvy Shopper
You don't have to buy less to spend less. Become a smart shopper. Pay attention to online deals and clip coupons. Sign up for online services that deliver coupons to your inbox. Start shopping for holidays and birthdays early to give yourself the greatest chance to shop around. Never buy last minute gifts, because you could end up spending a lot more than you want.
To take your coupon clipping a step further, keep your coupons organized by date and item category, or by store. This way you can take the greatest advantage of the best deals before they expire.
Pay Off Your Debts
You may have stopped putting money on your credit cards, but paying them off making the minimum payment can take years and cost you thousands. Pay off your most expensive debt — that is, the highest interest rates — first. If you can, transfer balances with your highest interest rates to low interest cards, or to new cards with no interest rates for a fixed period of time. If you can't transfer your balances, call your credit card companies to negotiate a lower rate.
Talk with your bank, like Cheviot Savings Bank, about any budgeting services they offer to help you manage your money.