How You Can Stay On Top of Your Finances

Life certainly does move pretty fast.  It may just seem like you just finished school and started your career, and then suddenly you’re “grown up”, have a family of your own, and you start to think about where you thought you were at your age.  Did you expect a better job?  Have more saved?  Not be in debt?  Fortunately, all of those can be changed starting now, to give yourself the best financial situation.  By making a few tweaks with your personal finance, you can not only get ahead but stay ahead until you start to wind down your working career and look to enjoy retirement.  After all, you want to make sure you can still afford to enjoy the life experiences even after you walk away from work.

Strive for the Best Credit Score

You know if you’ve applied for a mortgage, loan, or credit card, your credit score is not only the basis for your approval, but at what interest rate you receive.  The lower the interest rate, the less you pay in interest every month and lower your payment, which can save you a significant amount over the life of the terms.  By checking your score at least once a year, making your payments on time, while not maxing out your credit limit and paying off the balance every month, you can ensure that your score will continue to rise every month.

Build an Emergency Fund

There always comes a time when life throws a wrench in your day to day plans and throws a huge unexpected charge, throwing your finances out of whack.  Whether it’s an auto repair or vet bill, not being prepared will send you swiping your credit card to make the purchase, putting you in debt and adding an extra monthly charge until the balance is paid off.  By saving up a few months’ worth of expenses you can give yourself a cushion in case a charge come out of nowhere and you can pay off with your available cash.

Keep Expenses Low

While the hope is that more money is coming in than going out each month, it really comes down to how much you are spending.  Whether that is tightening up necessary monthly expenses such keeping the air conditioner set higher to save on the electric bill, cancelling cable and opting for a streaming service instead, or reducing going out to eat and going grocery shopping so you can prepare meals at home, all will quickly add up your savings that you can notice right away, making you wonder why you didn’t do that even sooner when you see the extra funds left in your bank account.

Track Spending

You may have an idea of what you’re spending, but until you take last month’s debit or credit card statement and go line by line for every purchase made, is when you will finally have a clear picture of every dollar that is going out for the month.  When you start to analyze every purchase, you can start to see which necessary, and which ones were probably could have been avoided.  If your share your finances with a significant other it’s a good idea to keep them involved as well to ensure that you’re both on the same page when it comes to tightening up spending in order to get the most out of savings.

Don’t Miss Out on Free Money

When it comes to credit cards, it may be tough to stay within a strict spending limit since there really is not stopping making purchases until you I guess you hit your credit limit, but provided you can use responsibly, it can actually make sense to use a credit card for every purchase for the rewards by itself.  By making the purchases that you would have made anyways, you can earn points or cashback that could add up to hundreds of dollars per year.

Maximize Retirement Savings

Speaking of free money, if you are not taking advantage of a company-matching retirement contributions at work, you could be missing out on thousands of dollars per year, which could add up to tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars a few decades from now when you’re ready to retire.  Although it seems like forever until you can walk away from work, and it may be, but the sooner you start saving, the more time you’ll have for your nest egg to grow over time so you can ensure you’ll have enough not only to life off, but to continue to enjoy life to the fullest.

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