Any type of financial planning is a dynamic process that requires regular monitoring, and reevaluating. Here are some tips to get you started on your personal finance journey. If they seem a little complicated, take a deep breath and remember, you don't need to follow every single tip, just the ones that apply to your personal situation.
Even if you are young, start putting money regularly into a retirement account. A small investment at a young age can grow into a large sum by the time retirement comes around. When you are young, you have time on your side. You will be pleasantly surprised at how quickly your money will compound.
Find your own financing when buying a car. You will have more negotiating power than if you are relying on the dealer and their banks to get you financed. They will try to talk to you into monthly payments rather than the actual cost of the car. If you already have your loan in place, you can concentrate on the cost of the car itself, because you already know what your payment would be.
Set up a deduction from your paycheck to automatically go to your savings account. Saving is much easier when it requires no further conscious action. As you begin to think of your spendable income as the new, smaller amount, you can adjust your budget accordingly while your savings keep growing with every deposit.
To improve your personal finance habits, make your budgets simple as well as personal. Instead of creating general categories, stick closely to your own individual spending habits and weekly expenses. A detailed and specific account will allow you to closely keep track of how and where you spend your income.
When you are taking out money, one thing that you must try to avoid is withdrawing from a different bank than your own. Each withdrawal will cost you between 2 to 4 dollars and can add up over time. Stick to the bank of your choice if you want to minimize your miscellaneous expenses.
To make sure that bills don't slip through the cracks and go unpaid, have a filing system set up that lets you keep track of all your bills and when they are due. If you pay most of your bills online, be sure that you use a service that will send you reminders when a due date is approaching.
If you have a parent or other relative with good credit, consider repairing your credit score by asking them to add you an authorized user on their card. This will immediately bump up your score, as it will show up on your report as an account in good standing. You don't even actually have to use the card to gain a benefit from it.
If offered by your company, consider signing up for a cafeteria plan for your health care costs. These plans allow you to set aside a regular amount of money into an account specifically to use for your medical expenses. The benefit is that this money comes out of your account pretax which will lower your adjusted gross income saving you some money come tax time. You can use these benefits for copays, prescriptions, deductibles and even some over the counter medications.
If you rely on credit cards to make most of your purchases, or for multiple high-dollar expenditures, consider having the balance transferred to a credit card with lower interest rates. This is especially helpful for those who plan to continue using their cards for a considerable period of time in the future.
Carry at least ten dollars in cash or a debit card. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act lets merchants set a minimum amount for credit card transactions. The minimum amount cannot be more than ten dollars and does not apply to debit cards. Previously, some merchants inflicted minimums in violation of credit card agreements.
Rebalance any investments that you may have. Stocks and bonds have had an overall good year, though cash yields are near zero. Look at your portfolio and make sure that you don't need to move anything around so that you are earning more money. You should be doing this every year to help your portfolio.
Pack your lunch. Most people spend the most money in their day during lunchtime. This is because most people get up and don't make time to prepare lunch before work. That means they have to pay out of pocket for lunch unless they wait for dinner. Making a quick lunch will save that money.
Working from home is a good way to save money. It's probably costing you a lot to go to the office. When you consider the gas, tolls, parking and lunches, the costs begin to add up and are often overlooked.
Fund your retirement account heavily. Make sure that you are at least put in as much as your company will match. More than that is even better. Planning for retirement now will keep you from worrying about it later. You will have a nice nest egg and be able to live comfortably when you reach retirement age.
As was stated in the first paragraph of this article, having the ability to properly manage your personal finances is extremely important. Without the right knowledge, you will waste tons of cash, and miss out on many money making opportunities. Take advantage of the tips in this article to secure your financial health and improve your life.