Money worries can overwhelm a family. But you can make some smart moves to stay on track and live within your budget. Here’s how.
Start saving today. Even just five dollars a paycheck or even five dollars a month is a beginning. And that small nest egg will eventually add up. Set up an automatic transfer to your savings or retirement account so the first bill you pay is toward your own future. And because you never see the money, you won’t miss it.
If you work at a place of business that offers payroll deduction retirement plans—or better yet, employer matching funds—take advantage of this by contributing as much as you can each month.
Spend time working out a realistic monthly budget. Base your income amount on your take-home (not gross) pay, and aim high when calculating your expenses. (For example, your utilities bill might be lower in the summer than in the winter, but use the higher winter amount for budgeting purposes.) Don’t forget to include seasonal or annual bills, such as property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, Christmas gifts, and vacations. You can save a small amount each month toward those items. If your monthly income or expenses change, immediately revamp your budget to reflect the change. And always keep in mind the number one basic rule of money management: Spend less than you earn. Always.
If you have the ability, computerize your monthly income and expenses and keep them up to date. Tax time will be so much easier.
Buy your cars with cash if at all possible (slightly used are a much better bargain than new, by the way). If not, save for a large down payment.
Our homes are usually the largest investment we’ll ever make. Be content with an affordable home, and take out a 15-year mortgage instead of a 30-year mortgage so you pay down on the principal amount quicker. Buying as much home as you can afford is tempting, but maintaining your home is much easier if you’re not strapped for cash each month.
Credit cards—always pay the monthly payment on time. If you’re late, the interest rate will rise sharply. If you can’t be disciplined with credit cards, cut them up. But if you can pay your credit cards off every month, they can be convenient. And many credit cards offer incentives (such as cash back or air miles) that can be a real savings for you.
Many folks today eat out several times during the week—they buy lunch and then pick up fast food on the way home in the evening. You can save a bundle when you choose to make meals at home and pack your lunch, and the food is often healthier than what you can pick up in a drive-through. Also, by not going out to eat so often, you’ll lose the joy that comes from occasional splurging on a special meal out.
By putting some or all of these ideas into action, you’ll start to feel a greater sense of control over your finances and the pride of being a good steward of all that God has given you.
From 501 Time-Saving Tips Every Woman Should Know by Georgia Varozza
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