Spring is a great time to spruce up your budget. Try these tips to spend money wisely, stretch your income further and accomplish savings goals faster:
1. Automate Savings
Direct money toward a separate savings or investment account via automatic transfer. Have the funds move immediately after you’re paid to reduce the temptation to divert your money elsewhere.
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2. Leave Savings in Savings
If it’s a challenge for you to keep money in savings, purposefully make this account difficult to access. For example, have those regular savings transfers sent to a bank across town, and don’t sign up for online banking. That way, you really have to think before withdrawing money.
3. Use Cash
It’s easy to overspend when you don’t physically see money leaving your hands. Committing to a monthly cash allowance adds an extra level of self-discipline and personal accountability for staying on budget.
4. Shop Around
For everything from mortgage loans to home improvements, a little extra research can save a lot of money. Get quotes from multiple companies, use online price comparison search engines and read reviews to make sure you’re not only getting a great price but also a quality product or service.
5. Negotiate Purchases
Because there’s a lot of competition for your dollar, ask before you commit: Is there wiggle room on the price? Will the company throw in a value-add? Also, contact your current service providers, such as your cable company, to see if you can get a better rate.
6. Cut the Mindless Spending
ATM fees, unused subscriptions or excess groceries can quickly eat into your savings. Identify — and end — the mindless spending that isn’t benefiting you by using a budget.
7. Rethink Weekends
Instead of dinner and movie tickets, pack a picnic for a free movie-on-the-lawn event at a local park. Or enjoy a potluck game night with friends. Creativity not only fuels fun but can be kinder to your wallet.
8. Plan for the Unpredictable
Invest in a few key products to protect or supplement your income in an emergency. Things like disability and life insurance policies can help secure your family’s finances (and peace of mind) in times of crisis.
9. Hide Credit Cards
If you struggle with spending money you don’t have, but still want a credit card to build your credit score, consider placing that card out of reach. “Hide” it in a safe-deposit box, keep it at your parents’ house, or let a trusted friend hold it for you — anything to prevent grabbing it on impulse.
10. Keep Learning
Saving and spending money wisely is so often about know-how. To truly hack your way to financial success, continually surround yourself with great tools and resources to support you on the journey. Follow financial blogs that inspire you, and keep fine-tuning your approach until you find what works for you and your family.
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