[custom_frame_left][/custom_frame_left]Whether you’re saving to pay off debt or for a specific purchase such as a car or a vacation, saving money takes discipline and hard work. If you sometimes have trouble paying your bills, it can even seem impossible. But most everyone can save something. The sooner you begin implementing a savings program, even if it’s just on a small scale, the sooner you can begin paying off your debt and planning for the future.
The following recommendations are designed to help you establish and/or grow your personal savings.
1. Pay Yourself First. When you pay your monthly bills, write a check to yourself first and put it in your savings account. In this way, it will become just like a monthly “bill” that you have to pay.
2. Don’t Borrow Additional Money to Pay off Debts or Bills. This defeats the purpose of saving. It doesn’t make sense to increase your indebtedness when trying to pay off debt.
3. Cut Expenses. Analyze your budget and determine where reductions can be made (e.g., eating out, buying snacks and lunch at work, going to the movies, etc.). Once you have determined how much you plan to cut, use this “found” money to pay down the balances on your debts. You can use programs such as mint.com to help you evaluate your budget and identify areas in which you can cut expenses.
4. Optimize Your Monthly Payment. Pay the maximum amount towards your debt with the highest interest rate. Pay the minimum amount on all other debts. This saves you money in the long term, as you avoid paying increased interest rates.
5. Ask for Reduced Interest Rates. Some creditors, especially credit card companies, will reduce your interest rates if you just call and ask. If you receive offers for other credits cards with lower interest rates in the mail, use those offers as leverage when you are re-negotiating your rates with your current creditors. But be careful not to apply for too many new credit cards simply to take advantage of low rates or introductory offers. This will lower your credit score.
6. Set Goals and Priorities. Determine what’s important. When you prepare to buy something ask yourself if this purchase is in line with the priorities you have set and will it help you reach your goal or delay it.
7. Check out the website: http://www.quicken.com/saving/debt/ This site provides a free Debt Reduction Planner that allows you to determine the amounts you should be paying towards each of your debts and calculates the money you will save by paying your debts in the recommended order.
Additionally, the program tells you when each of your debts will be paid off.
As always, representatives at State Employees Credit Union are here to help. You can stop in or visit our site here for more money management tips: http://www.secunm.org/money-management-tips.html.