Cents and Sensibility: Fall Finances
It’s time to switch out our summer clothes for fall, but don’t let your wardrobe be the only thing you’re taking a look at in your household this season.
You should also be sprucing up your finances.
Here are five tips you can use to straighten out your spending habits, today:
1. HAVE A WEEKLY OR BIWEEKLY DATE WITH YOUR FINANCES:
Carving time out of your busy schedule–the same way that you do with work, activities, and hobbies–will ensure that you remain on task and financially organized. My advice is to carve out 20 to 30 minutes every time you receive your paycheck. Utilize the time to get organized, pay bills, balance check book, and plan for weeks ahead.
2. STOP RUNNING: TALK TO CREDITORS AND NEGOTIATE
Talk to creditors; most are willing to work with you. Call companies ahead of time if you know you are going to be late on a payment. If you missed or are late on payments, ask them to waive the late fees associated with your account. Negotiate lower interest rates and affordable payment plan options.
3. LEARN TO USE CASH INSTEAD OF CREDIT CARDS
Put away your debit and credit cards for emergencies only, use cash instead. You are more likely to keep your spending to a minimum if you see cash leaving your pocketbook and less likely to spend impulsively. Plus, “cash is king.” It’s often easier to negotiate prices with cash than plastic.
4. USE DIRECT DEPOSITS FOR YOUR CHECKS
Check cashing fees add up quickly; cashing checks at local currency exchanges requires not only money, but also time spent going every payday. Shop around at local banks and ask about free direct deposits and any “hidden” or long-term fees.
5. DO NOT GET INTO DEBT
It’s really just that simple! If you can’t afford it now, don’t buy it. Wait and save the money until you are able to purchase it. Finally, once you are out of debt, be careful not to implement old habits like a bad record repeating itself.
About Dr. Karen Ratliff
Dr. Ratliff is a certified life coach and professional educator, assisting many people in accomplishing financial, career, and educational goals. She is also the author of “Tightening Your Bootstraps: 104 Tips to Kick Your Debt to the Curb Now.” Keep up with her budgetary advice via Twitter @drkarenratliff.