Seven Hacks for Better Money Management

By Mike Peterson
In January 26, 2015

It’s a brand-new year, and there’s no better time to get on top of your household finances.  But before you start reviewing your spending habits and setting up or adjusting your budget, it’s a good idea to examine some of your money management strategies.  Are you still paying your bills via check and “snail mail”?  Do you lose track of due dates and payment methods?

As it turns out, there are a few simple strategies you can use to make budgeting and day-to-day finance a little easier.

Need a few suggestions?  Keep reading!  I’ve selected seven of my favorite tips for simpler money management:

  1. Say “hello” to electronic billing and payments. Paper bills are a pain in the neck: They’re bulky.    They clutter your desk and they have a nasty habit of getting lost or shuffled to the bottom of the pile.  They’re easy to ignore or leave unopened until it’s much too late.  Avoid late fees and stay on top of your bills and due dates by opting for paperless billing.  Another great thing about going paperless:  Paying bills is much, much easier – all it takes is one or two mouse clicks, and you’re good to go:  No stamps or snail mail necessary!
  1. Enroll in auto-pay. What’s even easier than making an online payment?  Putting your online payments on autopilot.  Most service providers (think phone, cable, electric, and so on) will allow you to set up automatic payments, which deduct your bill directly from a checking account or credit card — ensuring that you never risk making a late payment again.

A couple of words of caution, though:  If you opt for auto-pay, make sure to read your monthly bills and check for errors or, in the case of credit cards, fraudulent charges.  Also: If your auto-pay option is linked to your checking account or debit card, make sure you have funds available to cover the amount due – or you could be looking at hefty overdraft fees!

  1. Bank online – and on the go. With online banking, it’s super-easy to stay on top of your finances:  You can check your balances, transfer money between accounts, and even pay bills.  What’s more, many banks offer smartphone apps which give you access to your bank account from anywhere – and some have handy features like remote check deposits, which eliminate the need to go to the bank to make a deposit.

Just be sure to keep security in mind when using online or mobile banking options: Pick good passwords and change them often – and opt in to security alerts that detect suspicious activity or unusual purchases.

  1. 4. Pare down your payment methods. If you tend to pay bills and make purchases with a combination of a debit card, credit cards, and the occasional check, you probably find it pretty easy to lose track of your spending.  One good way to keep better track of your money is to choose one payment method and use it for everything.  That way, when it comes time to review your budget or check your spending activity, everything is one place.  (Of course, if you use a credit card for this, make sure you pay your balance in full every month!).
  1. Create a “finances-only” email account. Concerned that you might miss an electronic bill or overlook an email alert from your bank?  Create a dedicated email account and use it for all banking, billing, and credit-related communications.  It’s an easy way to make sure your important messages never get lost in a pile of Spam.
  1. Adjust due dates. Some service providers give you the option to choose your bill’s due date. This can be helpful if you’re dealing with an off-kilter billing situation where all of your bills are due at the same time.  By adjusting your due dates so they’re spread more evenly, you can bring some balance back to your monthly finances.
  1. Set aside time to review your budget. One reason most people’s finances get way off course is because they simply stop paying attention to their budgets.  I’ll admit that budgeting isn’t the most exciting thing you could do with your time – but if you’re serious about saving and spending wisely, it’s well worth it.  I won’t get into a lengthy discussion about budgeting (if you need some starting points, check out this post or this one) – but I will say that the only way a budget will work for you is if you review and adjust it from time to time.  Once you’ve got a budget in place, set aside time once a month to check your progress:  Are you spending more than you expected in one category? Not spending as much as you expected in another?  Are you able to save?  Adjust your budget as needed, and review again in another month – you might be surprised by the improvement in your finances.

So, there you go:  Seven easy ways to make money management just a little easier.  Try one or two – or try them all!

Here’s to a happy – and financially stable – 2015!

 

Mike is the author of “Reality Millionaire: Proven Tips to Retire Rich” and he has been published in a variety of local and national publications including Entrepreneur Magazine, Deseret Morning News, LDS Living Magazine, and Physicians Money Digest. He holds a B.S. in business administration from the University of Phoenix.