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Checking Your Money: How to Optimize Your Finances

When a new year gets under way, it’s a great time to examine your finances and find ways to make improvements. While this may not be the most fun way to spend one’s time, doing so can produce some great results that will leave plenty of extra dollars in your pocket. If you’re eager to optimize your finances, here are some great ways to do so.

Checking Your Money: How to Optimize Your Finances

Buy Cheap Checks

One of the biggest mistakes many people make is purchasing checks directly from their bank. However, when they do so they often wind up paying much more than necessary. Instead, buy cheap checks from one of the many companies that sell checks of all types for far less than what banks charge. While banks offer few options for their checks, companies such as these offer everything from themed checks that highlight animals or cartoons to personalized checks that let customers upload their own photos onto their checks.

Cut Your Expenses

Along with saving money when purchasing checks, there are also plenty of ways to cut some common expenses. For example, while cutting coupons may take some time, it’s often well worth the time and effort it may take. This is especially true during the holiday season, when numerous coupons are available on plenty of different products. In addition, those people who eat out often can find plenty of coupons in their local newspapers each week, enabling them to save a dollar or two on a Big Mac and order of fries.

Create and Stick with a Budget

For people who are serious about saving money, there’s no better way than creating a budget and then sticking to it month after month. One of the best ways to do so is by using what’s known as the Envelope System, which is a simple yet effective method. By gathering together a few envelopes and labeling them for rent, groceries, insurance, gas, and other common monthly expenses, many people find themselves saving more and more money each month. Once you become aware of how much you’ve been spending on those Starbucks coffees or impulse buys at the grocery store, chances are you’ll scale back and change your spending habits.

Pay off Existing Debt

Along with establishing a budget, paying off existing debt on credit cards, auto loans, mortgages, or other loans can make quite a difference each month. Doing such things as paying more than the minimum payment required on credit cards can not only get them paid off years ahead of schedule, but also save potentially thousands of dollars. Likewise, homeowners may be able to refinance their mortgages at lower interest rates, allowing them to save money that can be used for other things.

Build up a Savings Account

In today’s world, more people than ever have little if any savings in the bank. As a result, they have no safety net in the event of an unexpected expense or for their retirement, putting them in a perilous position for their later years. To keep this from happening, most financial experts recommend saving as much money as possible each month. Some people try to put back at least 10 percent of their monthly income in savings, while others eliminate certain expenses each month and put that money back into a savings account.

By implementing all of these steps into a personal finance plan, optimizing your finances can become easier than ever before. Whether it’s using checks that cost far less than those from your bank, paying off a long-standing credit card debt, or brown-bagging it for lunch each workday, all of these steps can work together to put more money in your pocket.

Tim Esterdahl

Tim Esterdahl is the editor of IFCS blog. He is a married father of three and enjoys golf in his spare time.

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