Being in charge of the household finances is a tough job, one not to be handled alone. If you have a significant other it’s a good idea to bring in, since it has to do with both of your income and spending. If you are on your own, then bringing in a family member or close friend that you trust might not be a bad idea either to bounce ideas off to ensure you have set yourself up for success for the future, in addition to making a few smart money moves.
Create an Emergency Fund
You never know what life will throw at you, so it’s a good idea to be prepared as you can in case something does happen and there is a huge unexpected charge to come up such as an auto or home repair, or even worse, a job-loss. If you can keep a few months’ worth of expenses in an account for easy access, you will get rid of the need to put on a credit card and put yourself into debt, at which if you can’t afford now, you won’t be able to afford later.
Really the best way to free up extra money so that you can use to pay off debt and save for the future is by reducing expenses, specifically removing the unnecessary expenses. After you pay all of the needed bills and allow for food and gas, how much are you spending after that, and for what? A good place to start would be to reduce going out to eat, as those charges can add up quick, and opt for going grocery shopping and preparing meals, snacks, drinks at home instead of going out and watch the savings add up pretty quickly.
Save for the Future
Every free dollar, even if it means you have to cut back on “fun”, should go towards saving for the future, whether that is a 401(k) account or an IRA. If your work offers company matching contributions you should at least contribute that much, otherwise it would just be leaving free money on the table, not being able to grow over time, leaving you short when you are ready to walk away from work and have something to live off during retirement, as we know we cannot solely rely on social security income being there decades from now, although we are paying into it now.
Take Advantage of Credit Card Rewards
While I’m not encouraging going on a charging spree, but if you only charge the items that were already expenses anyways and you used your debit card, you could be earning free points, dollars, or miles just by making those purchases you would be making anyways. With so much competition in credit cards out there, find the card with the best APR and rewards that you can get approved for, as you’ll be surprised how quickly your rewards will add up and you can cash in for gift cards, air miles, or a cashback check every year.