Common-sense ways to saving and spending

Are you in control of your finances? If you are not, you probably have less idea of how fast your money is leaving your wallet or bank accounts. To live a successful financial life, we need guidance that directs us what financial moves we need to make and what moves to avoid. This post will you some tips on just how to do that.

Make a budget and stick to it

With a budget, you will be able to know and control how much money is going out of your wallet. You will know precisely how much to spend and on what. If you don’t stick to your budget, having a budget won’t help you. Remember to update your budget to reflect your present financial need. For example, if cost of gas rises to fuel your car or if you upgrade to a SUV from a small car to accommodate your kids, it won’t make sense to work with an outdated gas budget. Keep in mind the idea is to cut on spending, wherever possible.

Buy for the future, not present

It is probably easier said than done. It does not mean, however, you cannot try. When buying large items, base your buying decision on the quality, reliability and capacity of the product not just on the price alone. A high-quality and a very reliable item will not only last longer but probably will require less service maintenance.

Reduce debt

Develop a plan that will reduce your debt. This does not necessarily mean that you just slash your current debt while you spend more to accumulate more debt in the process. What reducing debt is all about is owning less of it as possible. If you have credit cards charging you high interests, consider paying them more than and paying just the minimum to those that charge less interest. Whenever possible, pay more than the minimum payment. Paying just the minimum will keep you in debt longer.

Try avoiding getting into debt to follow someone else’s lead. If your neighbor or friend buys a luxury car, it may not be a wise decision to purchase a luxury car for yourself if your financial picture is not better than of your neighbor or friend.

Develop a habit of regular savings

Every month try saving as much as possible. For example, you could start saving $50 or more a month. Put this money in a savings account or add-on CD. You can also hold on to the money if you don’t want to put it in the bank. Banks are probably a safest alternative, however.

The idea is to build on your savings. As you add to your savings, you will notice you will end up with more and more. It is a good idea to keep the savings momentum going as long as possible. This is the only way to accumulate wealth while avoiding spending all or most of it.

Protect your investments

If you don’t know how to make money with investing, it is probably a good idea not to take unnecessary high risks. With investments, reach for high yields and at the same time keeping your original investment amount (called principal) safe.

Remember the basic idea of diversification. Diversification is about mixing investments in variety of investment vehicles such as stocks, bonds, or real estate. In other words, don’t invest all of your money in just stocks, bonds or real estate. Spread your investment dollars into as many areas as possible because if one area tanks hopefully other areas will lessen your losses.

Here are some general tips and questions to ask when investing:

  • Does the investment meet your financial needs or goals?
  • Know how much the investment is costing you (i.e., in fees or commissions).
  • Make sure you money will go into a safe investment
  • Can you easily get the money, if needed? Are any fees or penalties involved? If yes, know how much.
  • Are you confident about the investment? If the investment means you have to nervously see the slight changes in your investment, it may not be the best option for you.
  • Consider buy-and-hold approach if you are investing for the long-term.
  • Does the investment have a long-term growth potential?

Know the basics of taxes

The idea is that you want to legally minimize your taxes as much as possible. Talk with your tax advisor to seek more information. In general, know about your tax-deferred savings options such 401k or traditional IRAs. Here some other tax preparation tips to know:

  • Pay attention to your numbers (such as for deductions, credits, etc.)
  • Know how much investment looses you can claim on your tax return
  • Know which investment will minimize your tax liability. Investigate tax-free alternatives.

Seek financial professional help

An average person does not have time or expertise to follow the market closely as a financial professional. If you feel you need a professional advice on your investments or financial matters, consider hiring a financial professional. If you are an internet-savvy person and can understand financial research with ease, consider using plenty of sources found on the internet. If you need help with choosing stock brokers, read this post.

Be healthy

Why should health be part of this post? Annually, health costs are rising. Consequently, if you are not a healthy individual, you can expect to pay more for your health care needs. Money for health care needs has to come from somewhere. Obviously, it will be tied to your wallet somehow.

If you choose a long-term healthy life-style, you can reduce your health care costs now and in the future. Read more on healthy life styles online or in your local library.

Posted on 11/5/2006
by Raj Singh