(Previously posted via Tumblr July 22, 2015)
STEP 4 : FINANCIAL HACKS
While those who still have 2 ½ weeks left to track their spending for the month, I thought I would share some financial hacks I use to keep me on track with my spending.
1. PAY GOD FIRST: As not to offend anyone, I say pay God FIRST (if applicable.) Not everyone believes in paying tithes or haven’t been taught to trust God with their first fruits, so again I say: PAY GOD FIRST (if applicable.) If this applies to you, you may choose to pay tithes based on your pay schedule. Some people pay tithes monthly as if they would pay their rent or mortgage, others bi-weekly or bi-monthly. Whatever method works for you, give Him what belongs to him FIRST. I guarantee the giving of your first fruits will help you to become a better steward of your money.
2. GIVE YOURSELF A MONTHLY ALLOWANCE: Depending on how much discretionary income you have to work with after determining how/where your money is being spent, give yourself a REALISTIC monthly allowance. It can be weekly or monthly. I prefer a monthly allowance. I withdraw the allowance I’ve set for myself from the ATM at the beginning of each month. Using reloadable Debit Cards work just the same. If that amount is spent BEFORE the end of the month, I’m SOL and have to wait until next month’s allowance. Anything I don’t spend is placed into a savings account. Keep in mind monthly allowances can cover items such as eating out, entertainment, manicures, pedicures, and non-essential items such as clothing, makeup, etc.
One of the things that works for me is using my reloadable Starbucks card. I allow myself $25 each month for my Grande (Venti depending on how late I stayed up the night before) Caramel Macchiato.
I usually save these as a treat and will stop on my way to work Saturday mornings. I always make sure to get a receipt so I know how much is left. NOTE: I NEVER HAVE A CARRYOVER BALANCE. This is a good system for me because at one time I was making Starbucks trips 3-4 times/week and that can add up. Remember…. Financial Fitness requires discipline (there’s that word again.)
3. KEEP YOUR OWN CHANGE: Although banks have the “Keep the change program,” I’ve been keeping my own change. If I grab a couple of breakfast items from the dollar menu at McDonalds, I use my allowance to pay for it. It’s a non-essential item because I could have easily scrambled an egg and made some toast before I left for work. If the cashier asks me in the drive thru if I have two pennies, I’ll say “No” because I want that .98 in change she’s going to give me back. Once my ashtray fills up, I transfer the change into my Crown Royal bag (don’t act like you don’t have one right now full of pennies) until I’m able to separate the change and put it in separate coffee canisters. Remember, I had $240 (well $238.88) I saved up from last year. We’ll see by July 2016 how much change I’ll have saved since I’m using cash much more than my debit card these days.
4. TAKE THOSE CREDIT CARDS OUT OF YOUR WALLET: Leave that Visa, MasterCard, Discover, AmEx, Diners Club Card etc. AT HOME! You don’t need all those cards in your wallet. It may be too tempting for some of you. If you’re bold enough, you’ll take them ALL OUT. Unless you have a reserve amount in your checking account/overdaft protection savings account that’s tied to your checking account, I don’t advise this. CARRY ONE CARD IN YOUR WALLET/POCKETBOOK FOR EMERGENCIES ONLY. You may not be ready to cut the others up, but if you’re serious about deleting credit card debt, you may want to consider it (but we’ll cover credit/credit cards as the weeks proceed as well.) If you have a gas card, leave it at home unless you’re religious about paying the balance in full at the end of each billing period. If you do pay your balance at the end of each month, that’s great. This can actually be a good system for couples who have gas cards issued from the same account. Paying the balance each month also helps boost your credit score.
Some good advice my Dad gave me regarding credit cards, “If you can’t pay cash for it, then you can’t afford it.” Wise words to live by.
These were just a few financial hacks I could think of off the top of my head. I’m sure others I use will come to mind and I will share them with you as well. As always, I hope you benefitted from this posting and I do appreciate you reading it. Your commentary is also important so ALL FEEDBACK IS WELCOMED. If there is a specific topic you’d like me to talk about regarding “Financial Fitness Boot Camp” on this blog, feel free to shoot me an email at AndreaColeman@TheFinancialHack.com. Don’t miss a posting so be sure to follow me at http://www.thefinancialhack.com.
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~The Financial Hack ©2015