There are a number of ways that people can use to manage money to stay out of debt and even establish savings over time.
Establish a Budget
The first, and maybe the most important step, is to set a budget for yourself and stick by it. Take a look at your household income and outgo. Set the budget up to accommodate your payday schedule. In other words, if you get paid once a month, then you have to budget accordingly so that you won’t run out of money before the end of the month. If you get paid every two weeks, or every week, figure out which of your bills have to be paid on each payday. It is absolutely essential to set some money aside for emergencies. Even if it is only $20 per payday, having some cushion will keep you from having to borrow money when something unforeseen occurs. There are all kinds of budget sheets available to help you figure things out and many of them are free on the Internet. However, it is not hard to make your own. Just make a list of your income and when it arrives, as well as a list of what has to be paid when. Check each item off and date it when it is paid. Don’t forget to budget adequate amounts for items like food, gas, entertainment, etc. If you have those items in your budget, it’s also a good way to track how much you are actually spending on them each month.
A good way to begin the budgeting process is to sort out all of your legal and financial papers and file them so you can find what you need when you need it. For example put bills that are due on the 10th of the month in one folder, and bills that are due on the 25th in another folder. Once you have paid a particular bill, shred it and dispose of it, in order to save confusion. Any other financial information, like savings accounts, mutual funds, etc. should also be stored in appropriately labeled folders. At the first of the year, when your tax documents start coming in, put them all in one folder with the tax forms. When April 15 rolls around, you won’t have to dig through piles of mail on your desk to come up with all of the appropriate documents and forms. Items like insurance policies should also be labeled and file so that you can readily find them if and when you need them.
Find Ways to Save Money
Do some brainstorming about your expenses and how you could possibly cut back on them. It is wise to write them down on paper because it is less easy to dismiss them that way. For example, can you cut down on the amount of gas you use by taking public transportation? If you eat out often, consider making more meals at home. Examine your buying habits. Do you go shopping when you are depressed? Do you go grocery shopping when you are hungry? Do you purchase items advertised on the shopping channel without every leaving your easy chair? These are all practices you can change. Find healthier activities for when you are feeling down go for a long walk instead of going shopping. Make a grocery list and carefully plan what groceries you need for the coming week, then go to the store and buy them. Coupons can be advantageous if you buy name brand items, but store brands are often cheaper in the long run. Watch the weekly sales flyers in the local newspaper and buy items like meat when they are on sale. It’s handy to have something in the freezer to fix, and less costly in the long run than making a quick trip to the store after work and picking up only what you need for that night’s meal.
Find Ways to Make More Money
Get an extra part time job, or work overtime at your regular job, if possible. Clear out your attic or your garage and have a yard sale. You may be happily surprised at the amount of money you can bring in. These days, many people make money selling items through online auction sites like ebay, and don’t have to sort and tag and have people running all over your yard for a day. If there is a local farmer’s market, consider something you can sell there. If you have extra produce from your garden, or are a good baker, you will find that people are readily willing to buy things that you can grow or make. If you make extra money, don’t increase your expenses. Either use it to pay off bills, or put it away for savings.
Choose Credit Carefully
If you have to have a credit card, shop around for the best deal. Some credit cards have yearly fees that have to be paid whether you ever use the card or not. Interest rates vary widely. Make sure you know what the interest rate is and shop around for the lowest. If you charge something, pay it off before the end of the month, then it won’t cost you any interest on the card. Don’t use more than one credit card. It’s too easy to get into the cycle of living on the credit cards and never really paying more than the interest on them. This is a practice that will get you deeper into debt in the long run.
If you have an emergency and need to get a payday loan, make sure you investigate and find the one that is the best deal for you. The amount of interest charged varies widely from company to company and so does the repayment period. Find the loan that gives you the most flexibility for the least fees. Try to never roll your payday loan over, but pay it off in full by the due date.