Financial experts and political pundits alike say that we’re slowly making our way out of the Great Recession, but many Americans today are still struggling financially to make ends meet.
The numbers can be deceiving: while overall household income has increased by 26% over the past dozen years, the actual cost of living has gone up by 29% during that same period of time. It can be difficult to plan — much less stick to — a budget when you’re already living on limited resources, but a sound financial management plan will help you make the most out of your money.
Here are just a few small pieces of advice to set you on the right track.
- Reduce Debt
Credit cards and loans are a very useful way to help cover costs and make investments when you don’t have the money for purchases up front, but in the long run, they can cost you more than they’re worth. Americans pay an average $950 every year just on interest payments. The best way to reduce your overall costs of spending may just be getting out of debt as quickly as you can.
- Plan Your Meals
Successful financial management comes through sweating the small stuff. When you plan out your grocery shopping to meet your meal plans for the week, you’ll be less likely to make impulse or unnecessary food purchases, both at the supermarket or at restaurants. Those small daily savings can really make a difference over time.
- Think Green
There is a strong movement across the country towards making eco-friendly decisions about how we use energy and fuel. But the decision to make small choices to reduce energy use can also save you bundles of money. You can shave tens of dollars off of monthly expenses simply by switching to high-efficiency lightbulbs, or keeping the thermostat set just a few degrees higher in the summer or cooler in the winter. You might even consider ditching the car to bike to work!
No matter you current situation, there are ways to take control of and manage your finances now before it’s too late. Some 40% of American families routinely spend more than they earn — don’t get to the point where debt rules your life. Simple financial management now can give you long-term peace of mind.