While going out and getting a victoria secret credit card to go on a shopping spree because they offered you a discount by opening a car, may not be the best for your finances, only to put you into debt and struggle to get out, especially if you find yourself carrying over a balance every month and paying interest, you know that making only the minimum payment will not rid yourself of the balance. Sure, you can always feel free to consult a professional, or at least a family or friend you trust, but there are a few ways that you can work on your personal finance and make sure you are not only getting ahead, but staying there, building for your future.
Know How to Use the Right Credit Card
There are so many credit cards out there, how do you know which one to choose, especially when you probably get multiple offers on a daily basis? Well there are a few things to look out for, and that doesn’t include the name of the card, where marketing it to be “black”, “silver”, or “gold” doesn’t matter, as the APR, whether there’s an annual fee, or probably the most important, how the rewards are. By making the purchases you would be making anyways, you can earn free points to redeem as gift cards, airline, or hotel credits, or even dollars back to you.
Don’t Miss Out on Employer Contributions
It may seem like retirement is too far away, and it may be decades away still, that doesn’t mean it’s too early to start saving. The earlier you can start saving, the better, and longer it has to grow over time. Increasing contributions by a percent a year is a great way to improve without feeling too much of the burden at one time. Your work may be offering employer-matching contributions, so it’s a good idea to make sure you’re not missing out on any free money now, that could significantly increase your 401k account over time.
Review Your Credit Report
These days you just never know when it comes to your information leaking. You can protect your cards as best as you can, but sometimes it doesn’t matter, as stores can get compromised, as well as even credit bureaus are not safe either, so the best you can do is pull your report at least once a year to ensure all of your accounts are up to date an accurate. The major credit bureaus allow a free copy of your credit report once a year, although the score will not be included, you can now view that on monthly credit card statements.
Debt Consolidation May be the Answer
If you have multiple credit cards that are carrying a balance with various interest rates, it may be time to consolidate that debt in order to be able to pay off sooner. You can transfer balances to a new or existing card, hopefully with 0% APR for a period that you’re able to pay off. Another option to wipe out all of your credit card debt and payoff over time is to take out a personal or home equity loan, and you may find your credit score will increase as well, finally ridding yourself of the many card balances.
Evaluate Renting vs. Buying
It may not be as cut as dry anymore when it comes to buying versus renting your living space. It used to be that you bought when you got your first job and then moved up from the starter home as you made more money, but now that the housing market has skyrocket back up, it may not be feasible to afford by the time you figure the mortgage, taxes, and insurance. If you can rent a quality place for a period of time to keep expenses low and to save money, that may be a better option, just probably not permanent.
Try a Budget
It’s no wonder that most Americans don’t hold down a successful budget because it is, in fact, not an easy task. If you can examine every dollar coming in, and allocate money to monthly expenses, food, gas, spending, you may be able to tighten up spending enough to free up extra money to build up an emergency fund, pay off debt, or increase retirement savings. It will take some tweaking over time, especially if you can build in events such as birthday and Christmas shopping, you may be able to make it work for you and setting you up for success long term.