August 10, 2012
Simple Steps to Manage Your Finances
Managing your finances can be complicated. Most people find themselves juggling financial priorities such as paying down debt, starting an emergency savings fund, saving for college or contributing to a retirement account. The first week of August is National Simplify Your Life Week and M&I, a part of BMO Financial Group, suggests these tactics to help you organize, consolidate, and eliminate bad spending habits.
Eliminate Unnecessary Expenses: One of the easiest ways to have fewer bills to worry about and put more money in your savings account is to eliminate unnecessary expenses. For example, consider giving up the premium cable TV channels or your morning stop at the coffee shop. Decide if those unnecessary expenses are actually worth the money.
Consolidate Accounts: For married couples, consolidating financial accounts will make it easier to manage money and plan your financial future. Consolidating accounts will allow you to have a clear picture of your financial situation and give you fewer accounts to track. Aim to have one savings and one checking account.
Automate Payroll Deposits and Bill Paying: Take advantage of all the tools available to automate your finances. Direct deposit your paycheck to eliminate trips to the bank. Set up automatic bill payment. You’ll never miss a payment and avoid late fees, plus you’ll simplify your life by cutting out check writing and remembering to pay bills. If the thought of automatic bill payment worries you, you can still pay your bills online and manually authorize the payments each month. Most banks offer free online bill payment that includes reminders and shows you when you last paid a bill to streamline recordkeeping.
Plan for Success: Even if you are keeping good track of your finances and bills, creating and following a budget can make it easier to simplify your spending. Use your take home pay to create a budget and determine whether or not you can afford anything extra.
Eliminate Credit Card Debt: List your credit cards and set up a plan to pay them off starting with the ones with the highest interest rate to minimize interest payments. Not only will this give you fewer bills to worry about, but it will give you a sense of satisfaction when you see a zero balance on your monthly bill.
“It takes a series of small but significant steps to simplify your financial life,” says Mary Brockhaus, Senior Vice President, M&I, a part of BMO Financial Group. “By taking advantage of automated financial tools, paying down high interest debt and creating a budget and sticking to it, you’ll be in a better financial position today and as you plan for the future.”
Visit www.mibank.com for more information on how to simplify your spending. You can also visit www.bmoharris.com/helpful-steps for several easy to use financial tools.