Through the years of the recession it was probably even harder but with the US Economy improving there are few excuses for those with regular incomes to not get their finances in order.
If you need help and advice there is plenty around and certainly following a few basics is a good start.
A budget is essential and you must aim to ensure it shows a monthly profit, not an over-spend supported by a high interest credit card.
Indeed your credit card is often the first thing you should address. The level of credit card debt in US Society is quite disturbing. The figures alone are alarming but even more alarming are the numbers of people who appear to have debt that is out of control and incurring a high rate of interest at the end of each month. Simply paying the minimum the credit card companies require is no good; that hardly reduces an existing balance before any more spending in the current month. If you want to make a significant change to your financial position the best action for you to take is ironically to borrow. A just right personal loan is far cheaper in terms of interest rate applied than a credit card.
Talking of credit cards and money management, they are central to the issue. There is nothing wrong with credit cards for convenience and in some instances they are virtually essential; buying online. However users must have the discipline not to buy anything that they cannot afford to pay for in full when the monthly statement arrives. If you need a cash withdrawal on a card because you are running out of funds at the end of the month, you are living beyond your means and must find economies. If you pay off balances as described above only use the card as described in the future.
If you are living beyond your means you should look at your spending and make changes. If you are eating out regularly you should either stop doing that completely or make a determination to gradually reduce that activity. There’s nothing wrong in cooking at home and making coffee and sandwiches to take to work. There are plenty of free places for your socializing.
This exercise should be part of a plan to follow a budget. When you put everything down into an income column and an expenditure column you will soon see the facts. While everyone would like to earn more and you may have a few ideas about how you can do that, it is the expenditure column where you can probably make the real difference. Paying off high interest debt is just one of the items that will improve your situation. General economies help then there are some specifics to examine. You must ask yourself whether there are cheaper alternatives for your utility services, your telephone network or insurance for example. You might be surprised about how much you can save each month by spending a little time researching those things.
You must think about the future whatever age you are. If you are in your 20s you may think that old age will never arrive. It will and the earlier you start to provide for it, even with just a small amount put aside each month the more comfortable it will be. If you get into the habit of saving a little you are on the right track. You will not be able even to do that if your finances are in a mess. You should ignore that little voice in your head saying you can do that later when you are earning more money. By that time you may have a mortgage and a family and the costs of children can exist right through college until they are earning themselves.
You may not be especially good at figures but you will certainly know the difference between having a genuine surplus each month, not supported by credit card cash, and a deficit. If need be take advice but aim to balance things each month while saving a little towards the future in that balancing act.
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