How to Simplify Your Finances
Simplifying your finances is an activity that we could all benefit from. In a Pew Trusts study, it was revealed that 1 in 5 Americans say that they are not planning for retirement.
Not only that, but when asked whether it was more important to them to have financial stability or to move up the income ladder, a staggering 92% chose security.
But stability is not something that seems to be the norm. 60% of American households reported experiencing a financial shock or a major setback, and more than half say that they worry about their finances.
Sticking to a budget, paying off debt, buying a home, saving for retirement, or any other step to simplify your finances will make financials goal easier to accomplish. Here are some tips:
1. Find out what you were doing right
A lot of times we will try to fix what was wrong and don’t take time to reinforce the good habits and things that we were doing right. For example, if you were contributing to your savings last year, recognize that this was a great habit to have, and continue supporting it. And if you can automate those activities, all the better, whether 401(k) payroll deduction or direct deposit from a bank account.
So, if you really want to save for a goal, decide now how much you want to stash each month, and have that money moved from your account on payday. If you never see it, you’ll never
2. Checks and balances
For obvious reasons, it’s a good financial habit to monitor your bank and credit card account activity on a regular basis. Fortunately, most financial institutions offer online alerts that do a lot of that monitoring for you. You can even set the dollar amounts for balances or purchases with some banks.
Additionally, for credit cards, you can set payment reminders. That way you won’t get hit with a late fee (which could be as much as $39 each time, according to CreditCards.com).
3. Big picture
Online financial tools like Mint.com allow you to see your bank accounts, investments, credit cards, loans, and credit scores in one place in real time. And you have the ability to access that information anywhere, whether you’re on your work computer, smartphone, or home PC.
The tool also allows you to create a custom budget, print reports, or export data into Excel or Quicken—which allows for easy collaboration with your tax preparer.
4. Less cards
Transferring credit card balances on high-interest rate cards to one with a lower rate may help you consolidate your monthly payments and save on interest. Once you’ve done that, if you’re worried about using the cards again, shred them rather than canceling them. You’ll still have the credit line in your name, but you won’t have the temptation in your wallet.
5. Get your priorities straight
There are many different ways to prioritize and clarify your financial goals. Give some reflective thought to what you want out of life, now and in the future, and realign your efforts towards achieving your goals.
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