Basic money management tips

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*Get organized! Create a list of your current bills.

 Print a month-long calendar and record the due date of each bill. Paying your bills on time will help you avoid late fees and penalty charges.
 *Prioritize your debt.
Decide if you want to start paying off the smallest debts first or if you would rather begin with those with the highest interest rates. Either way, you control your debt payments. Once you pay off bill #1, you should add this money to your next bill in order to reduce your remaining debt faster.
*Examine your spending habits by tracking all of your funds and spending on a weekly and then monthly basis. Do this task faithfully for at least two continuous months. Document your current money/cash assets; record all income and record all expenditures.
* Using information from your spending tracker, create your monthly budget.
* Follow your budget to manage your day-to-day spending.
 You always want to spend less than what you earn. If you’re having an issue with ‘balancing your budget’ so that your expenses are less than your income – start to research some frugal living tips so that you can cut corners and save money. Some ideas may include: Review/downgrade your cell phone plan; your cable TV options and your insurance plans among others.
* Save as much as you can afford. Pay yourself in your budget, just like a bill or creditor. Use the information from your budget and spending tracker to be honest about what you can afford.
 Use your savings to cover for emergencies prior to borrowing. Experts recommend that you aim to save three to six months wages to cover emergency expenses or unexpected job loss.
* Make use of online banking as much as possible.
 In many cases, you’ll be able to set up payment reminders, schedule future bill payments and review your spending.
* Plan in advance for the ‘big ticket’ items.
Estimate how much you will need and start saving for it. Opt to gain interest on your savings verses purchasing with credit and then paying interest on the loan. When you’re ready to make the purchase, do spend time doing some comparison shopping, to ensure you’re get the best deal available.
* Maximize your employee benefits to ensure that you take advantage of retirement savings options, flexible spending accounts and health benefits that might save you on taxes or out of pocket expenses.
*Set specific financial goals for your household. Begin with your short-term goals (attainable in 4-12 months) and then expand to your long-term goals (attainable in 3-5 years).
You don’t have to be a financial guru to manage your money. With a combination of financial guidance, discipline and common sense, you should be well on your way to living within your means and increasing your personal wealth. Your family members must understand the importance of saving so that they can assist in controlling expenses. So openly discuss individual spending, personal allowance and financial goals to include the entire family. If you are constantly spending more than you earn and delving deeper into debt, it is important you seek guidance from a qualified and reputable credit counsellor. These financial professionals can assist in negotiating with your creditors, creating debt consolidation plans and finding alternative repayment options that may potentially help you get out of debt faster.

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