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Getting Your Financial House in Order Before Year-End

September 27, 2013

While making smart decisions when it comes to your finances should be practiced year round, it’s also never too late to start.

Financial House Tips from Business Finance Experts
Getting your financial house in tip-top shape can be done in a matter of just a few steps!

With only a few months left to the end of the year, now is the time to get your financial house in order and make sure your financial future is bright. Here are 7 tips to help you make it happen.

1. Set aside savings. While no one wants to think about losing their job, it can happen to anyone and any time. Having cash set aside to ensure your financial security in between jobs will help alleviate some of the stress. The rule of thumb? Stash at least 3 to 6 months’ worth of income, but 9 months to a years’ worth is even better.

2. Control your credit cards. Just because you have a certain amount of credit available to you does not mean it’s OK to max it out. In fact, this is a poor practice that indicates you are a higher financial risk to creditors, and can negatively impact your credit score. Use only 30% of your credit limit each month, and try to pay off the balance in full if possible to show creditors you are financially responsible.

3. Track your spending. Knowing exactly where your money is going each month is not only empowering, but can also give your spending habits a tune-up. Tracking your spending for a month using a handy tool like Mint.com can be a tremendous help in determining where your money is really going, and making changes to your habits accordingly.

4. Read the fine print. If you are signing up for a free trial or service that requires your credit card information, make sure you understand the fine print first. It is very likely you will be billed on a recurring basis whether you are actually using it or not. Too often, people will sign up and forget their card information is on file, which could end up costing hundreds of dollars over the course of the year. Look back through your bank statements and cancel any recurring services that you are not using.

5. Pay bills on time. Bills can be daunting, but they must be paid. Open up your bills as soon as you get them and determine when you will pay them. Late fees add up, which ends up costing you even more money. Like removing a Band-Aid, the thought of paying bills can be painful at first but is a tremendous relief when it’s all done.
6. Make an emergency fund. Life is full of unexpected events, and we handle them best when we are prepared. Set aside at least 10% of your income to have handy at all times.

7. Create a list of financial goals. Take some time to think about what your financial goals are and write them down. These include both short-term, like saving for a vacation or car, and long-term, like saving for retirement. Determine what your financial goals are and the steps it will take to achieve them. The clearer your steps are, the easier it will be for you to follow them. Post your list in a place you frequent and check back each month to keep yourself in check.

Taking control over your finances is the best way to set yourself up for a lifetime of financial success. No matter how intimidating the process may seem, starting now is much better than not starting at all. This time next year, your financial house should be clean and clutter-free!

Photo Credit: Images_of_Money via Photopin cc

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