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Smart Stopper: Saving money starts with simple over silly

Who doesn’t want to save more money?

Everyone, no matter how much you already have saved or if your idea of a savings account is an empty plastic water filtration jug filled with change, wants to save more money than they have right now.

Whether your nest egg isn’t quite as fluffy as you’d like it to be or you know today (much like yesterday and the day before that and the day before that) is the day when you decide that having a savings account is paramount to do anything from handle unexpected purchases to save for retirement when that fateful day arrives.

Getting from point A to point B, however, as far as actually doing what you say can be rather difficult if you refuse to completely address your situation or keep telling yourself that you don’t need to spend less, just make more money at work. And while that logic technically makes sense, it is flawed.

That mentality isn’t addressing two key issues: how did you arrive at this point and what can you do within the confines of your current situation to fix it. Far too often, those who struggle with money don’t come to that much needed revolution that there is indeed a real issue at hand.

And that begins with a budget, creating one and sticking to it. And when you say budget, what is meant is an actual spreadsheet with some semblance of order to it, not you jotting down your deductions and expenses on the actual receipt or in an antiquated checking registry that you never look at beyond that initial entry.

When you’re thinking about that budget and desperately wanting to put one together, you have to set realistic goals for yourself. You can’t all of a sudden concoct a budget that includes you spending $0 on clothing when your last Macy’s receipt for the month was a few hundred dollars. Granted, that is an area where you can cut back, but you have to look at the entire scope of your spending before you can go in with a knife start figuratively hacking away at how your money is spent. That goes for services such as cell phones and cable television. Saying so long to a data plan makes sense if you’re not using the data. You might want to keep some rather than get rid of all.

Finally, in addition to being superbly realistic and not running from the real money problems, you have to be a little strict with yourself and raise your accountability. You got into this mess, and you can get out, but that only can happen if you’re assuring yourself that you’re competent to do so but not foolish enough to ignore the obvious money issues you have.

Split Personality: Why you and your credit card need to go your separate ways

Breaking up may be hard to do, unless of course you’re talking about your love affair with your credit card and how it has negatively influenced anything from your ability to save money to your making that financial future a little less optimistic.

Now, this isn’t about bashing credit cards or looking at those devilish plastic cards as being all bad. Those who use them correctly find that they can carry with them a slew of benefits that go beyond being able to buy something and not pay for it right at that moment.

The trick to credit cards really starts with that person using it, namely if you’re paying it off in full with every purchase or taking advantage of interest rate terms and special promotions for the allotted time and then not letting interest build up and hit all in one fell swoop. Other perks include establishing credit for the purposes of having a score bump every time you pay on time or even something as simple as travel points to earn free miles for that upcoming vacation.

That said, credit cards are a necessary evil but also part of money and saving it that can be avoided. You’ll hear plenty of people talk about they don’t use credit cards and don’t want them, period.

And that’s fine, and typically that mentality comes with good reasoning. Perhaps a balance has been haunting them for years or they’ve had their fair share of run ins with the creditors of a particular card and didn’t receive them warm and fuzzy feeling they had hoped to get.

Whatever the case may be, closing credit cards and breaking up with them is a good thing, for the right reasons. Much like a relationship, you have to examine the why more so than the how.

For instance, if you’re not using it and you’re being charged in some form or fashion for it, then send that card packing.

Of course, the most obvious reason to cancel a credit card is if you simply can’t stop using it. If you consciously find yourself spending at a moment’s notice, do yourself a favor and walk away from the card. Shred it, freeze it but most of all cancel it and know that your spending can only get better without having that card so accessible or even active.

Credit cards are unique in that they make life easier and harder in the same breath. Unexpected purchases, points and perks make cards all the more lovable, but that affair of the heart can turn quickly if you’re not spending wisely and most importantly able to save after it is all said and done.

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