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How to Stay on Top of Your Personal Finances

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You have approximately 2,463,853 things to do—and that’s on a slow day. With everything you have on your plate, it’s easy to let your personal finances slip through the cracks. 

However, managing your money deserves a higher spot on your to-do list. 

Take a deep breath. We have a few tips and tricks to help you make it happen (even on your busiest days). Keep reading to learn how to stay on top of your personal finances. 

Everyone Needs a Backup Plan

No matter how much you like to live in the moment, you need a plan B for when something goes awry. What we mean is, you need an emergency savings account. 

Having money stored away will not only give you peace of mind, but it will also prevent a minor set-back (like an unexpected medical bill or an emergency car repair) from turning into a financial disaster. 

Most financial pros advise having at least three months’ worth of expenses in your emergency account. We know that’s a lot, but you’ll thank yourself if life ever throws something unexpected your way (which it tends to do, more often than not). 

Treat Your Credit Card Like a Debit Card

This piece of advice is two-fold. First of all, if you don’t have a credit card, you need to get one—ASAP. Credit cards often get a bad reputation for triggering over-spending and a slow descent into unmanageable debt.

But that won’t happen if you know how to use it.

Using a credit card responsibly means you can:

  • Improve your credit score
  • Rack up rewards like cash-back or travel points
  • Get access to exclusive member benefits 

Here’s where the second part of this tip comes into play. To avoid classic credit card pitfalls (debt, interest, late fees—oh my!), pretend your credit card is a debit card: 

  • Don’t spend more than you have. 
  • Pay off your balance immediately by transferring funds on your phone. 
  • Only exceed your available bank balance in the event of an emergency or if you know the money will be coming in before your next bill is due.

This strategy allows you to take advantage of the benefits while avoiding the consequences. Score!

The Bills Won’t Pay Themselves—But You Can Make it Easier

If only there were a way to make your bills magically disappear. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a fairytale. (If someone has that power, please, give them our number.)

But back in reality, there are still ways to make paying bills a lot easier:

  • Enrolling in autopay (just be sure to monitor the balance in your account)
  • Using a bill tracker app
  • Consolidating services like internet and cable when possible
  • Setting recurring reminders on your phone

A Loose Budget is Better than No Budget

It’s easy to see budgeting in black or white terms. However, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. You don’t have to account for every last penny or have a separate category for toothpaste to reap the life-improving benefits of budgeting. 

Setting a loose, general budget is 1000% better than just hoping you have enough money to cover your expenses every month. As you start to see how much easier it is to embrace life with a budget, you might be tempted to make a more detailed one as time goes on. 

To get started, try making a budget with the following (very general) categories:

  • Rent
  • Utilities
  • Groceries
  • Loan payments
  • Transportation costs
  • Fun money (don’t forget this part) 

See? Just thinking about how much money you need for these six categories can help bring your stress levels down

You’ve Got This! 

Just by reading this, you’re already in a better position to stay on top of your personal finances. Despite everything going on in your life, sometimes it’s important to take a step back and focus on your funds. The best part is, staying on top of your finances means they won’t cause as much stress, so you’ll have more energy to dedicate elsewhere!

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