Mark Cuban. Warren Buffett. Michael Bloomberg. Most of us will never be as rich as the world’s wealthiest billionaires, but we can still learn from their smart money habits.
From ditching debt to paying bills on time, fiscally savvy folks have developed good habits and plans that keep them in financial shape. And with a little effort, you too can master their tricks for managing money. If you’re looking to break bad money habits and get on more solid financial footing, following these fiscal tips from the pros.
Have a Written Budget
Many people have a budget — sort of. They know who they have to pay each month and how much. However, they don’t have anything in writing.
When you have a written budget, you see exactly where your money is going. Best of all, you can direct your money where you want it to go. You get to decide what you want to save and how much you will spend on expenses like groceries.
Your budget is your roadmap to financial success, so make sure you include every single expense. Don’t forget about that coffee you grab on the way to work or the money you spend on parking every day.
Pay Your Bills on Time
Late bill payments are serious budget busters. Fortunately, there are ways to ensure bills are paid on time. Setting up automatic payments is one of the many successful habits employed by financial pros. You can also set up alerts on your phone or use a calendar on the wall to note due dates.
When you pay your bills on time, you show you are responsible and avoid late fees being tacked on to the amount you owe.
Avoid Immediate Satisfaction
It can be tempting when you are shopping to pick up that new bag or those cute shoes. However, do you need them? Will buying them truly make you happy? Why do you feel you want to buy them?
Asking yourself these questions can help you avoid emotional purchases, which often lead to buyer’s remorse.
If you do want to make a purchase, one of the best financial habits to use is the 24-hour rule. Go home, think about the item and check your budget. If 24 hours later you still really want it and can afford it, go ahead and spend the cash.
Do Not Use Credit or Debit Cards
Using cash is one of the best ways to ensure you are financially fit. Even if you use credit cards in the right way and pay them off every month, you might still be overspending.
For instance, if you have only $100 to spend on groceries, you can’t spend $101 if you use cash. However, if you are using plastic, you can. It is just too easy to spend more than you anticipated when you carry credit cards.
Sticking with cash will ensure you never spend more than you have budgeted because it is impossible to do so.
Keep the Lines of Communication Open
My husband and I have regular budget meetings. We look over our finances, and we check our spending. It helps us both know where we are financially at all times.
You need communication in all areas of a relationship — including finances. Never hide money or spending from your partner, as these habits lead to anger and fighting.
For best results, make time for at least a monthly meeting and add the event to both your calendars so you don’t forget.
Pay Down Debt
Take the steps necessary to pay off your debts. You will need to create a debt payoff plan to make it happen.
Start by assessing the types of debt you carry and determining what should be paid off first. Because it carries a high interest rate, credit card debt is particularly problematic and can deplete the funds you have available to save for retirement. By committing to paying more than the minimum on your credit card bill each money, you can wipe out debt while paying less interest overall.
It might take some time, but you can pay off debt if you’re diligent.
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Save Money Every Month
This is a good habit some people overlook. Your budget should include a line item for every penny you earn, including savings for emergencies, retirement and holidays. There is never a right or wrong thing to save for.
The best trick that you can use to save is to automate your savings. When money is automatically deducted from your account each month, you can never make excuses about not having money to put aside.
Live Within Your Means
Many of us wish we could live in a bigger house or drive a nicer car. However, that doesn’t mean we all have the money to make these kinds of lifestyle changes.
Different incomes necessitate different lifestyles, and living outside your means is a bad habit that can put your entire budget in jeopardy. While one person might make enough to afford that 2,500-square-foot home, another will have to make due with an 800-square-foot apartment — at least for now.
Whatever your salary, the key is not to spend more than you have. If you can’t afford the bigger home, then you should not buy it.
If You Use Credit, Be Smart
Credit cards can be a great way to not only build your credit, but also to get rewards and perks. However, you need to use them the right way.
Never charge more than what you have available in the bank. If you only have $500 in your account, do not spend more than that. The reason is that payday is never a guarantee. Sure, a company owes you money, but if it goes under and can’t afford payroll, where will you get your money from?
You should be able to pay your entire balance in full each month — and on time.
Balance Your Accounts Regularly
While you can use online banking to check your account, you should never rely upon this balance. There might be transactions that have not yet posted, online bill payments that are not reflected and even checks you have written that have not yet cleared. By balancing your account regularly, you know what you actually have to spend.
You don’t have to start out doing all 10 of these successful habits. Find the one or two you know you can master today, and then slowly add in the other eight. Before you know it, you’ll be on the road to financial health.
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