Today I’m giving the floor to Trisha Wagner. She’s a freelance writer who has volunteered to provide a guest post today at Out of Debt Again.
Managing Your Finances In Changing Times
A changing economy requires changes in how you manage your finances. When facing tough economic times many consumers have learned the hard way that the wrong money management strategy can have disastrous results. For those of you who have managed your finances well in the past, it is important to understand changes taking place now to ensure your financial security in the future. The following tips will help you navigate the new financial world we are facing.
Reconsider credit card use: After decades of easy credit and massive consumption, it may be difficult to change the way you use credit. In the past credit cards could be great financial tools but only in the hands of the very disciplined. Using credit cards properly can be a great way to build and establish a good credit history as well as benefit from lucrative rewards programs. Unfortunately millions of consumers use credit cards as an extension of their income only to find themselves over their head in debt. Regardless of whether you fall in the first category or the second, changes in the credit card industry will make credit card use from this point forward a risky move.
Pay attention to your credit report: It has always been important to closely monitor your credit report. In addition to spotting fraudulent activity you can also view the information potential lenders are seeing when they pull your credit report. Your credit report is not the only thing you should be familiar with; knowing your credit score is also helpful in determining what terms you will be offered if you qualify for a loan or an extension of credit. Make all efforts to maintain a good credit history and high credit score as banks have raised the bar for borrowers.
Focus on saving: If you haven’t already, now is the time to shift your focus from spending to saving more money. Regardless of changes in the credit and lending industry, having a well padded savings account is a sure-fire way to have the money needed for emergencies or other expenses that routinely pop up in your life. Not only do you need access to cash in the short term, you should also be saving money for long term goals like retirement. Take advantage of every opportunity to put extra money into your savings including: banking bonuses and pay increases, tax refunds and money you save by cutting unnecessary expenses.
Improve your earning capacity: In a time when most people are happy to have a job, any job, you may be hesitant to consider changing your career path. That doesn’t have to stop you from learning what you could do to increase your earning potential in the future. As the economy continues to improve, it might be easier to stay in your current routine, however if you are not making enough money or lack the opportunity to advance in your position- exploring other career options might be the first step toward a better financial future.
Stop the cycle of debt: Getting out of debt is a daunting task but one that shouldn’t be delayed. If you have high interest debt your situation will only get worse until you stop the cycle and begin eliminating debt. Do not be tempted to use credit in times of financial distress because eventually you will reach your limit and be forced to deal with your financial situation. Paying off debt takes time and sacrifice but is necessary to find financial freedom.
How you manage your finances from this point forward will determine whether you will reach your short and long term goals. Mistakes from the past cannot be undone, however you can learn from them and avoid going down the same path in the future. Ironically, despite changes in the economy and various industries, the rules of sound money management remain basically unchanged. It is your job to implement these tried and true techniques that have somehow been forgotten in the last few decades.
Trisha Wagner is a freelance writer for DepositAccounts.com, where you can compare rates of checking accounts from dozens of banks in one place. Trisha writes regularly on the topics of personal finance and savings accounts.