Some people are scared of witches, ghosts and vampires. Some have arachnophobia. The rest of us? Managing money.
1. Pick one thing to change. There are many things that you can do to save a little, but doing them all at once can be overwhelming. Choose one to work on this month and at the end of the month, evaluate your progress and pick another to work on. Create an alert on your phone or mark the date on your calendar so you remember to evaluate and pick a new tip.
2. Schedule time for budgeting. Set a time each week that you will take a look at your budgeted goals and actual spending so you know if you are on track to reach your goal for that month. If you aren’t on track, consider making a change in your behavior before making changes in your goals.
3. Aggregate your accounts and follow a monthly budget. This is a big one. Use a service that pulls all your accounts together—like Bank of American Fork’s online money manager. Categorize your transactions and evaluate how much you’re spending on transportation, eating out, personal care, etc. Look at those patterns critically, find a spot to cut spending and set an alert to remind you when you hit your budgeted amount.
4. Read your bank statement regularly. When you get your statement in your mail or email, look through it carefully. Not only will you spot anything that may be unauthorized, but you’ll be more aware of your own spending habits.
5. Automate regular transactions. The less time you spend paying bills or making deposits that are the same every month, the more you can focus on areas where you can improve.
6. Build an emergency fund. This one may seem counter-intuitive if you are already struggling. However, if you can pay for emergencies when they arise, in the long run you will spend less than if you have to borrow. Look at the “extras” in your spending, like entertainment and eating out, and use a portion of that to build up your savings—before you spend it! America Saves suggests, “Eat out less. If you save $45 each month you can fund a $500 emergency savings account in one year.” You will feel empowered as you begin to build an emergency fund.
What are you going to try this month?