Five (More) Ways to Plug Financial Leaks In Your Household Budget
1. Find the highest-yielding savings account at smartypig.com, moneyaisle.com, or bankrate.com and stash your savings there.
As much as the corner bank talks about how friendly and loyal it is to you, it absolutely pays to move your cash, and fast, for even a slightly better return. After all, that’s what they do. Review rates quarterly, at a minimum.
2. If your paycheck is direct deposit, have your employer deposit to your savings or a money market account instead of your checking account and let it accrue interest until you transfer to your checking account what you need to pay bills.
In other words, save first and live on what’s left, instead of the usual vice-versa way people approach it. “The biggest barrier to saving is not being in the habit of saving,” notes Greg McBride, CFA at bankrate.com. “The best way to get in the habit is to pay yourself first by directly depositing money from your paycheck into a dedicated savings account. You won’t miss what you don’t see, and putting your savings on autopilot is a great way to reinforce your money-saving habit when unplanned expenses inevitably come along.”
3. Consider a community bank or credit union.
Moving your money from the giant “bailout” banks into smaller local community banks or credit union increases your chances of getting a loan when you need one, and lowers your odds of identity theft. Plus, they’re cheaper. If you join a credit union, for instance, you are an owner of the credit union, as are all depositors. Fees are generally minuscule, and many punitive fees big banks charge to discourage small-money depositors just don’t exist.
4. Pay off your credit cards.
It seems like a no brainer, yet Americans are still carrying a hefty amount of credit-card debt: the average debt per household with debt is a whopping $15,799.
As an example of the waste in action, making only the minimum payment on a credit card that charges 18 percent interest and has a balance of $5,000 will cost you $2,916 in interest over the 12.5 years it will take you to pay off the card.
Regardless of how much interest your cards charge, it’s certain to be more than what the highest-yield savings account offers, meaning its time to stop paying money better used for savings to a credit card.
5. Schedule and budget for upcoming necessary purchases.
Prices don’t stay the same year round. Winter is the best time to get the lowest prices on air conditioners, gas grills, and, as a rule, houses; spring is best for finding deals on winter wear, televisions, and other electronics; summer is a good time to find great deals on large appliances; and fall is excellent for shrubs, trees, and other landscaping needs. Planning your needs for the year ahead can save you a bundle.
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