Here are ten steps you can follow to help improve your personal financial situation and inevitably save more money:
1. Pay Yourself Weekly
This may seem a bit odd, but this is an excellent way to start building a substantial savings. On a weekly basis, pay yourself $25-$50 and immediately put it in a safe place. You can even open a special savings account where this weekly "payday" can by placed to help minimize or eliminate impulsive spending. Think about it this way, if you paid yourself $25 a week, in two years you'll have accumulated $2600 (not including interest)!!! That's almost $3000 from just putting $25 aside every week! Take advantage of this money-saving opportunity. Simple, yet very effective.
2. Don't Shop
For those of you that love to shop, you may find that this is one tip that could save you hundreds, maybe even thousands every year. Start using the "Need or Want" strategy. Before you spend a single dollar on anything, ask yourself, "Do I really NEED this item, or do I just WANT it??" You may find that many of the items we purchase, we do so just because it "caught our eye" or it was "an impulse buy" or "my friend bought the same thing". All these excuses just add up to wasteful spending. You can probably get by without another sweater, or a new pair of jeans, so just buy what you absolutely need, and pass on those items that aren't necessities.
3. Use Your Bank's Own ATMs
Some banks will charge you money for using other ATM machines. Even though you will be able to withdraw money using your ATM/debit card from literally any machine, banks will charge you $2 (generally) for using a machine other than theirs, in addition to a standard $1.50 charge the machine charges for its use. In other words, if you use the ATM at your local 7-11 to take out $20, you'll most likely end up paying $3.50 in additional charges! If you do that 5 times a month, you'll lose $17.50 for that month, or $210 per year! What a waste! Try and stick with your own bank's ATMs whenever possible.
4. Track Your Spending
Take the time to track your spending habits for one week. Take note of every single dollar you spend, even those sodas and candy bars purchased here and there. This will give you a "birds-eye" view of exactly where your money is being spent, thus allowing you to refine your spending habits to essentially save more money.
5. Lower Credit Card Balances
Another very important tip that many often overlook. Pay off those pesky credit cards as soon as possible because you are losing up to 19% of the total. What a waste of your hard earned money! Keep chopping away at the balances until you get to an amount that is reasonable $100-$500 dollars.
6. Use Your Debit Card Instead of Credit Cards
Get in the habit of using your debit card instead of your credit cards. For the most part, debit cards are accepted anywhere a credit card is accepted, however as you know, with a debit card the amount is taken directly from your checking account whereas credit card usage is billed at a later date (along with a hefty interest rate).
7. Changing Jobs? Roll-Over that 401(k)
When people change jobs/careers they will be faced with a decision to either "rollover" their 401k (retirement plan) or to withdraw it. It will be ever so tempting to withdraw the money since it will be a substantial amount, but don't! You will be charged fines and penalties for an early withdrawal that will cut YOUR total by 40%-60%! That's like giving half of your earned retirement savings away to a stranger. Why would you do that? Even though you may want the money now, resist the temptation and roll it over. It will be well worth it in the long run.
8. Avoid Getting Too Many Credit Cards
Why have eight credit cards? That's just going to provide you with more opportunities to go further into debt. It's fine to keep 1-3 cards to build credit, establish yourself, and for emergencies, but credit cards are double-edged swords. They can help or hurt you depending on your self-control.
9. Check Your Credit Score/Report
It's important to know where you currently stand as a consumer and since your credit report is the most important historical list of your financial past and present, it's a very good idea to check it from time to time. There are a number of places where you can get your credit report, however the most detailed compares information from the top three national credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Once you get your report, look through it carefully to see if all the information is accurate. If there are any discrepancies, get those solved as quickly as possible to improve your credit rating - a score of up to 800. Often times, consumers are unaware of unsettled accounts, or accounts that are still open/active when they should be closed. Pay close attention to this when inspecting your report.
10. Finally: Review - Revise - Retry
Once you start implementing these tips and become more familiar with the money saving opportunities you have, take the time to REVIEW your progress. Check and see where it may be possible to REVISE some of your techniques or where you can implement new ones. Once you have revised your plan, RETRY to see if your results improve. The more frequent you review, revise, and retry your saving ideas, the more "in tune" you'll be with your finances and spending habits, and learn what works and what doesn't for you.
Gregory Thomas has been writing effective money-saving tips for SavingSecrets.com for over six years. Hop on over and you'll find FREE money-saving articles, a monthly newsletter, and even a FREE Ebook download just for stopping by!