We all can be guilty of not paying close enough attention to our finances. Whether you’re saving for something big, or just want to have a bit of extra money in your pocket, here are eight ways that will help you be smarter with your money.
1. Pay attention to what you're spending
The biggest mistake we make when it comes to our money, is not paying attention to what we are actually spending it on. Many times we are just using credit or debit cards and aren’t acknowledging how quickly things add up. Start paying attention to where your money is going and track any peaks or trends.
By paying closer attention to how and where you’re spending your money, you’ll have a better understanding of where you’re overspending and where you can cut back.
2. Make a budget and stick to it
Develop a budget and stick to it. Start by taking your monthly income and adding up all your reoccurring expenses like mortgage payments or rent. Once you have an idea of your mandatory expenses, you’ll know how much you have left for other things like entertainment.
The hardest part of budgeting is sticking to it, so get in the habit of regularly tracking your expenses, and note when you are overspending to adjust accordingly.
3. Eliminate your credit cards
The issue with credit cards is that you often spend beyond your means knowing that you don’t have to pay it back right away. Credit cards can be an easy way for you to blow your budget, so stick to debit or cash, or pay back your credit card as soon as you use it on something.
4. Cut out unnecessary bills
Do you really need a gym membership AND yoga membership? Can you get a cheaper plan for your cell phone or get rid of cable? Take a look at all your reoccurring expenses and see what you can cut back on or eliminate.
Bills add up quickly, and sometimes we find ourselves overpaying for things that we don’t even really need.
5. Plan and watch for sales
If there are purchases that you know you need to make, try waiting until there is a sale, or buy in offseason. For example, if you need a new winter coat, wait until the end of the winter to buy it so you catch the sales and save money.
For regular purchases like groceries, download apps like Flipp that will scan the local flyers for the best prices. At first it can be annoying to have to think before you buy, but soon you’ll get in a habit and be reaping in the rewards of the money you’re saving.
6. Manage your debt
Whether it’s student loans, or a line of credit, consolidate your debt as much as possible and create a plan for paying it back. Paying off high interest debt should be the top priority, and making regular monthly or weekly payments.
When you allocate a certain amount of money that automatically comes out of your account to pay off debt, you’ll quickly learn how to live without that money and be making strides towards paying debt.
7. Take advantage of rewards
We all hate that the cashier at every store is asking you to join their rewards program, but some of these programs can actually be worth joining, especially when there’s no fee associated with them and it’s a place you shop at regularly.
For example, collecting points at a grocery store or gas station can be a great way to earn money back and save, plus you’re already shopping there anyway so rewards will add up quicker.
8. Start saving now
We’re usually always saving for something, whether it’s a vacation, a house, a car, or even just that leather jacket you’ve had your eye on. Set up a savings account and put even a small amount each payday into it, and don’t ever use this account for anything other than what you’re saving for. You’ll be amazed how quick money will start to add up.
Being smarter with your money doesn’t have to be rocket science; simply paying better attention to what and how you’re spending can make the world of a difference.
Money can’t buy happiness, but it is something we need to survive in our society, so be smart and reap the rewards of having extra cash in your pocket.
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About the Author
Lauren Marinigh is a Toronto-based online marketing and content development professional, who is completely addicted to traveling, puppies, and GIFs.