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Mary O'Neill

Smarter Spending: 8 Tips to Keep Your Dollars and 'Sense'

 

Saving money is never easy, but always a necessity. Since it’s Financial Literacy Month, here’s how Payscape suggests keeping up with your personal finances.

 

  1. Get a checking account that rounds out every dollar by rolling over the change into your savings accounts, like Bank of America’s Keep the Change program. Slowly watch your savings increase without lifting a finger.
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  2. Keep a change jar - No, seriously. Having emergency change comes in handy when you’re in a tight spot financially (like, when the dollar menu never tasted so good). Keeping a change jar can help you save for that weekend road trip or add significant value to future plans.
  3. Make a budget (duh). The simplest way to see where you’re spending the most and saving the least is to sit down and write it out. Most online banking breaks down where you’re spending into neat pie charts so you can track where the majority of your money is going.
  4. Minimize credit card utilization. Credit card payments account for 30% of your overall FICO score. Meaning that if your debt level exceeds your ability to pay the debt off, creditors take this as the most serious red flag when determining your score. Try spending on your credit card what’s already in your checking account to make sure you can pay it off at the end of the month. This way, creditors know you’re reliable and will always make payments.
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  5. Don’t share your information online. Bolded and underlined-- only slightly important. Identity fraud hits another victim every two seconds. Use tips from trusted sites like Wells Fargo to make sure you’re protected.
  6. Contribute as much as possible to your 401K or life savings plan. Especially if your company matches, take full advantage! If you start saving by age 23, you could have more than $3 million in your savings account by 65.
  7. 50/20/30 plan: 50% goes into necessities, 20 into savings, 30 into lifestyle choices. Dividing your paycheck as soon as you get it may seem depressing, but breaking it down helps to make smarter choices while still allowing you to have that much needed drink on Friday night.

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  8. Always utilize free resources like The Mint and Feed the Pig whose websites help kids and parents alike manage money and see faster results in handling finances. These apps are great for tips and programs to make the most of your financial journey.

    Finally, watch your money grow! Whether you freelance a few days a week or have a steady income from that big corporate job, you can save for the future if you have a plan and understand simple measures to protect your money. 

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