Was one of your New Year’s resolutions to get your finances in order? It might seem like a terrifying prospect to delve into your budget (or create a budget from the ground up) and figure out how to get out of debt, stay out of debt, and save for your retirement, no matter how young or old you are.
It’s true that money doesn’t buy happiness, but it can certainly dictate how we feel about our lives. When our finances are clean and in order, we feel calm, confident, and assured that we are doing the right thing for our futures and for any potential future events. When our finances are a mess, we, too, seem to be a mess.
Don’t worry – staying financially fit doesn’t have to be too hard! We have 8 great little tips to help you get on the right track and get your financial house on the road to success in 2014!
Open your bills when they arrive – Even though this might be a common sense tip, it’s quite easy to grab the mail and not even bother opening, tossing it on your table on top of your pile of unopened mail. Face the bills head-on the day they come instead of ignoring the problem. Open your mail the day it arrives and take care of the bills as you receive them to help you stay on top of things!
Pay bills on time – Being loose on your bills can be quite dangerous. After all, late fees can really rack up in no time, and one late payment can definitely knock your credit score down by as much as 100 points. If you happen to be a traveler, procrastinator, or simply unorganized, you can always try setting up automatic bill paying to be sure that you’re never late for a payment.
Record each deposit, withdrawal, and transaction – We know, it’s so old-fashioned to balance “ye old checkbook,” but it’ll save you a lot of grief in the long run. Fees for being over the limit and having non-sufficient funds can become as high as your credit card late fees, and you could find yourself digging yourself out of a really large hole. Avoid all this headache easily by recording all of your transactions, withdrawals, and deposits so that you know where you stand financially at al times.
Review your monthly credit statement carefully – As a consumer, you should really keep track of how much you owe and when you need to make payments. Be sure, too, to check your statements each month for unauthorized charges that might appear on them – these can signify that you are the victim of identity theft or show that you have rate changes or changes to your credit limit. If you notice anything on your statements that you cannot explain, contact the issuer immediately.
Don’t take credit limits to the max – It might seem like a really great idea to go to your favorite store and go on a shopping spree till you reach your credit limit, but trust us, don’t do it. Using all of your available credit will more than likely backfire on you and will do you no favors. In fact, it could indicate to creditors that you’re in financial distress and could potentially give you higher rates and lower credit lines in the future. Instead, try to spend only 30 percent or less of your credit to stay on the path of financial fitness.
Know where your money is going – Budgets can really be a drag when you’re an adult, but they’re honestly a fantastic tool that helps you stay on track with your spending. Try tracking your spending for a full 30 days and then organize where your money has gone by categories. After a month of tracking, you should feel more in charge of your spending and see if your budget needs any tweaking.
Keep money back in case of emergencies – As we all say around here at Madison Mutual, anything can happen. That’s why it’s best to have at least one month’s worth of income saved up in the back in the event of emergencies or unexpected events. If nothing else, try saving 10% of each of your paychecks into an emergency account to act as a rainy day fun. This should add up to a little more than three months’ income saved up, ready for use in case of emergencies.
Get an annual check-up with Madison Mutual – Just as you should always have an annual check-up with your doctor, you should also come in at least once a year to see us about your insurance. We will make sure that you aren’t over-insured or under-insured and can go over your policies with you and make sure that you understand your policies.
Ready to get financially fit? If you’re ready to go but not sure where to start, feel free to visit us at our office, call us at 1-800-766-MMIC, or visit us online at www.madisonmutual.com to learn more! Keeping your resolution to stay financially fit has never been easier with the help of Madison Mutual!