Saturday, March 15, 2008

7 Financial Habits to Pick Up

Everyone’s always telling you what not to do with your finances. Don’t use payday loans. Don’t buy coffee. Don’t pay the minimum on your credit cards.

1. Check your account everyday. Before you start your work at the office, open up your online bank account and look at it. It is impossible to stick your head in the sand if you are forced to look at your finances everyday.

2. Make your coffee at home. Invest in a coffee maker on a timer and some travel mugs.

3. Keep your receipts. Make a weekly envelope and keep the receipts for everything you purchase. Not only will this force you to notice your spending habits, but it’s a great place to hang on to receipts for refunds.

4. Take your lunch to work. Make your lunch the night before or right when you cook, section some out in a little container for lunch tomorrow. If you get lonely, get a buddy to do it with you. Create a critical mass and you’ll have all of your office friends taking lunch to work.

5. Make one ATM withdrawal (at your bank ATM) once a week. Do it on Monday and swear not to get more money out. Even take your ATM card out of your wallet. You won’t be tempted to use it when you’re running low, and you’ll be reminded what money spent really looks like. Also, you get rid of those nasty out of bank fees.

6. Put your credit cards in a sealed envelope and hide them. I’ve heard about freezing them, so that you can’t use them unless you melt them out. It’s a great idea because you have them in case of an emergency, but can’t use them when it’s not. If you can, define the emergency you may need them for. Write them on the envelope. Try to think of some ways ahead of time to solve these financial crises without using the credit card and prepare for them. Example: Your car may break down. Create a car fund of $300 in a separate bank account. Ignore it, leave it, forget the account number but know that it’s there (collecting money) to get you over the worst of the hump.

7. Go to AA. No it isn’t for the free donuts. Alcohol is the most expensive and flexible expense you have. If you can, stop drinking. Or bring $20 and leave your cards at home. You won’t be tempted when you’re most susceptible to over spend.

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