You might think that staying on top of your finances requires lots of math and intense effort, but that’s not the case. Starting some good habits and taking a few simple precautions will be a big help in mastering your money.
You can’t control your money if you don’t know where it’s going and where it’s kept in the first place. Close any accounts or credit cards that you no longer need, and make sure to keep an eye on your transaction records so you’ll notice if something seems off (mobile apps and notifications can be helpful here). If you’re often scrambling to make payments, research ways to automate bill-paying or get paid early. Creating a budget is a good idea as well. It doesn’t have to be extremely detailed, but knowing how much money you have coming in, what your living expenses add up to, and what you can afford to spend in other areas is crucial for staying on top of your finances.
Avoid Common Pitfalls
You’ve probably heard about the dangers of credit cards, but racking up too much high-interest debt isn’t the only mistake you should watch out for. Be wary of scammers, and never give your personal or banking information to someone who calls or emails you out of the blue. If you’re worried, call the number on the back of your card or visit a bank branch in person. Be careful about fees as well, whether they’re from using an out-of-network ATM, making a late payment, or overdrawing your checking account. A few dollars here and a few dollars there can drain your wallet more quickly than you’d think.
Establish an Emergency Fund
An essential aspect of an emergency fund is that all of the money you’ve put in it is still there exactly when you need it most, so choose a safe and easily accessible option (such as a traditional savings account) and don’t worry about earning a return. Even if the frequently recommended goal of having 6 months’ worth of living expenses squirreled away currently feels out of reach, keep adding whatever money you can. If you’re able to, setting up a recurring automatic deposit to your emergency fund can help you stay on track.
Look for Savings and Extra Income
Extra cash always comes in handy, regardless of whether you save it or earn it. It’s worth looking into the many apps and websites that offer everything from supermarket savings to free samples to free food. You can also investigate gig platforms, freelance opportunities, and odd jobs for ways to turn your skills and spare time into income.
Regardless of the size of your income, you can take control of your finances.