Need help managing your finances? Read our tips and advice to help you make the most of your money.
Dig into the details on how to establish financial success. These tips will help you take control of your money, so you can use it wisely.
“Rainy Day” Fund
In life, we all encounter unexpected financial situations. But with the right planning, you can be prepared. A “rainy day” fund will help you do just that. A “rainy day” fund is money that you save for life’s unexpected events, such as a loss of job, unexpected illness, or urgent repairs to your car or home. Many experts recommend that your fund should be able to cover all your living expenses for at least six months. By saving extra funds each month, you can accumulate a substantial fund and, over time, meet this goal.
Managing Your Bills
Late fees are something that no one likes. But unfortunately, many of us endure them because we simply have no process in place for managing the bills. By taking the time to create a simple process, you can avoid unnecessary late fees.
Automate Your Monthly Bills
At Ameris Bank, we offer Online Bill Pay. This solution enables you to schedule and pay all your bills electronically, all within Online Banking. You have the option of setting up one-time or recurring payments. By automating your bills, you can prevent forgetting about due dates and avoid paying those costly late fees.
Streamline Due Dates
You should try to streamline your bills, so they are all due around the same time – making it easier for you to keep up with when each bill is due. Contact your credit card and other billing companies to make this request, as many of them are flexible and will let you change your bill due date.
A simple reminder can help you remember to pay your bill on time. Consider recording due dates in a calendar or simply writing yourself a note. Also, consider requesting email reminders from the bill company, as many of them have this resource available.
If you are a more hands-on person and like to handle your bills manually, consider organizing your bills by making a list. Beside each bill listed, record the due date. You can then designate a time (weekly or bi-weekly) to pay your bills. As you pay them, put a check by the bill so you can keep a record of what has and has not been paid that month..
Remember to pick a process that best works with your personality and lifestyle – as you're more likely to continue to maintain the process for years to come.
Credit Card Management
With the right credit card management, you can learn to use your card responsibly, helping you avoid the stress of unnecessary debt.
Be Cautious When Signing Up for a Credit Card
When applying for a credit card, make sure to read the fine print. Pay special attention to understanding all the terms and interest rates. Also, if you are applying for your first credit card, make sure you familiarize yourself with credit card terminology. This will help you make more informed and well-prepared decisions. To learn more about Signing Up for a Credit Card, visit the Federal Reserve Credit Card Education website.
Stay Within Your Credit Limit
Make sure you never exceed your credit limit. If at all possible, try to only use up to 50% of your credit limit, as this has the potential of increasing your credit score.
Keep Track of Your Spending
Keep a record of each item purchased with your credit card. Consider saving the receipts and recording them in your monthly budget. By doing this, you will know exactly how much you will owe when your credit card bill arrives. Also, consider checking the accuracy of your credit card statements. Compare the statement to your spending record to make sure all items are accurate. If you find a discrepancy, report it immediately.
Strive to Pay off Your Monthly Credit Card Bill in Full
If possible, be prepared to pay your card off in full when the bill arrives, as this will prevent you from paying interest on the card. However, if you are not able to pay the card off in full, pay at least the minimum balance due. The more you pay upfront; the less interest you will pay overtime.
Pay Your Credit Card Bill on Time
Strive to pay your credit card bill on time, as this will help you avoid late payment fees or possible interest rate increases. Also, late payments have the potential of harming your overall credit score.
10 Ways to Save Money
- Refinance Your Mortgage
If you are a homeowner, refinancing your home could possibly result with more money in your pocket each month. Take the time to consider refinancing and determine if it is a solution for you. Learn more about refinancing. Energy Efficient Appliances and Living Green
By investing in energy efficient appliances, you can potentially save money in the long run. Before investing, make sure to compare all products to make sure the energy savings outweigh the initial product cost. Also, consider using “living green” methods in your home, such as using a programmable thermostat that can be adjusted to your lifestyle and using the ceiling fan or open windows when the weather permits.
- Plan Meals Before Grocery Shopping
Everyone knows that the first rule of grocery shopping is to not go hungry! The second rule should be not going without a plan. By planning ahead, you can determine exactly what you need for each meal and not waste money buying unnecessary items.
- Eat at Home
Often times, you could find it is significantly less expensive to cook at home, especially if you have a household of more than two people, compared to dining out. Also, consider taking your lunch to work. For some, brown bagging daily versus eating out can save you at least $25 a week.
- Coffee Addiction
Is coffee a must for you first thing in the morning? For most of us, yes! Instead of going through the drive-thru on the way to work, consider making coffee at home. And if you are adamant about taking your coffee to work, consider investing in an insulated thermos.
- Clip Coupons and Rebates
Coupons can be found almost anywhere, and many stores now have online coupons that you can redeem on your phone in the store. Be on the lookout for coupons on your receipts, as many restaurants now offer free items if completing the survey found on your receipt. Also, don’t forget about rebates. They may take a few minutes to complete, but saving money is worth it.
- Pay Bills on Time
Paying your bills on time is one of the easiest ways to save money. By doing so, you can avoid paying unnecessary late fees. Check out our “Managing Your Bills” article above for ways to manage your monthly bills.
- Fitness Savings
Many of us invest monthly in a fitness gym membership, but consider other options to lower this monthly expense. Research fitness equipment to purchase for your home. While the upfront costs will probably be more, there is the potential for long-term savings. Research discounts or deals for fitness gyms. Many gyms have great discounts at the beginning of the year. Also, consider working out outside.
- Use a Reward Credit Card
If you are a responsible credit card user, then you should consider using a reward credit card. By paying the card off fully each month, you can avoid paying interest fees but still enjoy the reward perks. Reward cards come in a variety of options, such as reward points redeemable for gift cards and even cash back rewards. However, we recommend you only get a rewards credit card if you have no current credit card debt and can afford to pay the balance off each month.
- Evaluate Your Telephone and Cable Needs
Evaluate your usage and research alternative, less expensive forms of television. You may be able to find cost savings in your telephone and cable bills.
- Stay Away from Budget Temptations
Sticking to budget takes much discipline, so stay far away from temptations that might cause you to bust your budget. This might mean not going to the mall every weekend or turning off your computer to avoid online shopping when you have had a rough day. Whatever your temptation, try to avoid it especially within the first couple of months until you have established good budgeting habits and spending control!
- Don’t Be a Spontaneous Spender
Avoid being a spontaneous spender, especially on large items. Before purchasing, take the time to ponder if you really need the item and if you can afford it. If there is room in your budget, then go for it. But if not, try to avoid buying it.
- Designate Fun Categories in Your Budget
A budget is not designed to make you miserable and miss out on the “fun” in life. Instead, it is to help you have the funds to be able to have fun, while still helping you keep a healthy balance on your spending. Consider designating “fun” categories in your budget such as “fun money” (miscellaneous spending money to use on whatever you want), vacation money, date night money, etc.
- Set Aside Money for Infrequent Bills
While most bills are paid monthly, others ,such as car insurance, are not. Set aside money monthly for these bills, to avoid these being unexpected expenses. For example, if the car insurance is due every six months, take the total bill and divide by six to determine how much in your budget you should account for monthly.
- Record Expenses Weekly
Consider recording your expenses weekly to help you maintain the amount left to spend in each category during the month. A great way to keep up with the money you have spent is to keep the receipts for every purchase in a designated spot. Once recorded in your budget, remove the receipt from the designated spot to avoid entering multiple times in the budget.