Guest Author - Vannie Ryanes
You know that you need to save money, but it is holiday time. What can you do? "Don't shop" may seem absurd, but to save money you must get into the habit of asking yourself whether the item you are looking at is a want or a need. This time next year your family may be in a better place financially.
Even when times are tight, the need to save money takes a back seat during the holidays. It can be particularly difficult if you have little ones expecting a lot of presents. If your children are used to receiving costly presents instead of one or two at moderate prices, you have your work cut out for you and are probably waiting for those last minute sales. While it is too late to do anything about your finances this year, you can prepare for this same time year.
1. Pay yourself every week. This might seem silly but donít underestimate the power of weekly saving (or paying yourself) a fixed amount every week. Just saving $10 weekly can add up. It lets you bank $40 to $50 per month. Thatís not a lot you say. On the up side, it is $500 to $600 more in the bank than you would have had and thatís not counting any interest you might make.
2. Open a bank account for each child in his or her name. If the child gets an allowance, decide on an amount to be deposited every week. Any amount will do, the idea is to get your child into the habit of banking. If your child does not receive an allowance, this is a good time to surprise him with one.
3. Donít shop. This tip can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year. Before you buy anything, ask your self this question: do I really need this item or do I just want it? Chances are you just want it, but you can do just as well without it. Donít chuck out your money for unnecessary items.
4. Use only your bankís ATMs. This might not seem like such a big deal, but if you use your ATM card five times a month at ATM machines that are not your bankís you likely will be charged several dollars for each transaction. Five of those per month for a year add up quickly. So stick with your bankís own machines.
5. Track your spending. Log your spending habits for one week. Find out what exactly you do with your money. Write down everything, even what you spend on candy bars and sodas. This should give you a good picture of what is happening to your money.
6. Lower your credit card balances. If you have credit card debt, work on reducing it as quickly as possible. That way you wonít receive high rate interest on the balance. Pay those bills to get them down to a reasonable amount, or eliminate them completely if possible. Always pay a few dollars more than the minimum.
7. If you have a debit card as well credit cards. Use it instead of credit card. That way the items are already paid for and you wonít be tempted to put off paying the bill later and accumulating debt. The caveat here is to remember that you may have to pay a fee for the privilege of using a debit card and they are not quite as safe as credit cards.
8. If you change your job, roll over your 401(k), donít cash it out, the government will charge you a large percent for cashing out your account. Leave it alone if you can or talk to a finance person and get advice.
9. Avoid having too many credit cards. More than three is probably too many. Keeping credit cards for emergencies and to establish your credit is fine, depending on your level of self-control.
10. Keep an eye on your credit report and if thereís a problem take care of it right away.
And finally, review, revise, retry. Once you have tried these money saving ideas, review what is working and what is not. Revise your plan to work more efficiently for you. And retry some of the techniques to see if you can get them to work better the second time around.