Managing your money is “where the rubber meets the road” when it comes to maintaining a good quality of life. There are literally thousands of books, websites, videos and courses out there for people who want to get a better grip on their financial security. What do all the self-help books and courses have in common? Well, the vast majority of them are built around key concepts that teach adults how to spend more efficiently, save regularly and maximize their incomes.
There is plenty of content and advice readily available on how best to tackle your personal finance issues, and many of the strategies depend on your own particular situation and goals. The good news is that most of the professional advice can be segmented into four basic areas and applies to a vast majority. So, if your goal is to boost your personal bottom line, consider the following four strategies for how best to accomplish that.
Join a Shopping Club
Research has shown that consumers who belong to shopping clubs actually tend to buy more and eat more than they otherwise would. What these studies fail to mention, is that with a little more discipline, this actually results in fewer shopping trips overall which can also lead to the opposite effect…saving money! If you scan ten of the top-ranked “personal finance” books currently on the market, you’ll see this advice at or near the top of everyone’s “tips” list. Most shopping clubs have annual fees of around $40, which is peanuts compared to what you can potentially save in a year, provided you exercise a little restraint while there.
Always Compare Prices
Whether you’re moving to another town, buying a new home, shopping for a car or simply adding to your wardrobe, it always makes sense to compare prices and shop diligently. Nowadays, comparison shopping is easier than ever with the wealth of online information at your fingertips. Financial counselors suggest never buying anything without doing at least a few minutes of research to uncover bargains.
Even something as simple as hiring a moving company can yield big savings if you check prices carefully. A cross-town move will cost much less than a cross-country trek, for sure. But in both cases, if you spend time online and make a few phone calls you’ll be able to find the best value among the many moving companies available.
Create an Emergency Fund
You never know when life will throw a curveball your way so it’s better to be prepared as much as you can for a potential financial emergency. By saving up at least a few months’ worth of expenses into an account that easily accessible, you can ensure a cushion in case a large medical expense, auto repair, or even an unfortunate job-loss were to occur.
Monitor Your Credit Scores
You can get a free credit report from each of the three major agencies once per year. That’s the law. In fact, it’s even better to check your credit more regularly than that. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to get all the info you need without spending much. Most credit card companies and major banks will give you reports from at least one of the agencies. Or, you can join one of the many organizations that charges a fee in exchange for 27/7 access to all three of your credit reports.