Even when we're earning a decent living and we think we're following all the basic rules of smart money management, some of us still feel as if we're barely keeping our heads above water. For the most part, that "broke" feeling is a good hint that something in our finances is out of whack. Other times, it can come from some less-than-positive outside influences.
In this edition of Money Minute, I'm offering up a few simple tricks you can use right now to stop feeling broke and start feeling richer.
Adjust your bill pay cycles so you don't get slammed all at once.
You can actually ask some companies (like your student loan servicer) to change your bill due dates. For example, try to space them out so half fall near the middle of the month and the others fall at the end of the month. For ones you can’t change, like your rent, save ahead. Save half your rent from one paycheck and save the other half from your second paycheck. That way you're not using the bulk of one paycheck all in one shot.
Stick to your savings goals by naming your savings accounts.
If you've been using your credit cards as an emergency fund all this time, no wonder you're feeling broke. Saving a few months' worth of living expenses in a savings account can easily be the difference between going broke when disaster strikes or making it through with your finances intact. I know, it can be difficult to save even in the best of times, and it's even harder when you're already living paycheck to paycheck.
An easy trick I use to encourage myself to save is to give my savings accounts a specific name for whatever goal I'm saving for -- like 'emergency fund,' ‘vacation in Costa Rica’ or 'holiday shopping'. You will have a much harder time dipping into your savings accounts if you name them first. And once you've got them set up, go ahead and set up direct deposits from your paycheck each pay period. Don't obsess over how much you should save, either -- just save something, anything at all.
Take a social media break — right now.
It’s easy to feel broke when every time you log onto Instagram, you have to see pics of someone dancing on a yacht or showing off their new car. But you have no idea what kind of stuff they aren't posting -- like their credit card bills, their empty 401(k)s, or that photo of their parents writing them a check last week. If you stop focusing so much on everyone else, you can spend more time on your own finances and figuring out a strategy that works for you. In the end, that's what truly matters.
Bonus tip: Turn off overdraft protection.
Banks love to act like this feature "protects" you but all it does is make sure you get hit with a big fat fee every time you go over your balance. Log into your bank account sure you have it turned off.
Have a personal finance question you'd like answered? Drop us a line: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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