When it comes to money, you’ve had both victories and minor hiccups during the first half of 2016 and have made it out alive like a true champ. Kudos to you. You deserve a pat on the back.
Now that we’re halfway through 2016, it’s a fine time to do a financial check-in and take a look at your personal trends and habits (yes, good and bad) in the first six months of the year. Here’s how to spend some time reviewing your year so far so you can best go about making positive changes.
Discover your money pits
No matter how pro you’ve become at coming up with a budget and tracking your spending, review your spending by category. If you’re a Simple customer, your transactions are automatically organized by category, so you can easily see areas where you’ve been putting stress on your wallet.
See something cringe-worthy? Maybe you’ve been spending way more than you would like on taking a rideshare when out and about. Or perhaps you’ve fallen prey to the convenience of having food delivered straight to your door. To curb your spending, you can hashtag your transactions to create subcategories. That way, you can pay closer attention to those money pits.
For instance, if you’re prone to taking a rideshare and want to figure out if you’re spending more money during the week or on weekends, add hashtags to figure out when you tend to indulge in such services. You can also track how much you spend on taking public transit in a given period, or create a savings goal to fix up your bike.
What you find out can act as a wake-up call and provide a gentle nudge—or forceful push—toward cutting back on your spending.
Recommit to your goals
Were you gung-ho at the start of the year with your goals to find that some of them have fallen by the wayside? Instead of beating yourself up over it, make a pact to yourself to get back on track. Life certainly happens, and if you’ve had to, say, move out on a dime’s notice, or are struggling to save with income that ebbs and flows, you’ll probably need to reassess your goals for the rest of the year. If you’ve taken on more than you can handle, figure out which goals are at the top of your list.
Negotiate like a pro
“I really want to pay more for my cable and cellphone bill”, said nobody ever. Chances are service providers want to keep your business, so why not use that to your advantage? Before you reach out to see if your bills can be lowered, do your homework. Look at your transactions history to see how much you’ve been spending for your internet service, and see what competitors are offering for the same thing. See if you can hop on a special offer or pay less for the same thing. There’s really no harm in asking. Start with companies where you’ve been a longstanding customer, as you’ll have more leverage.
Besides lowering your bills, see if there’s anything you can do to lower the interest rate on your credit card payments or loans. When it comes to debt, knowing your credit score can help in a major way. Making a change such as automating your payments on your student loans can help lower your interest rate, which means lowering the total amount you’ll be paying.
And if you have solid credit, you might have an easier time persuading credit card companies you have a card with to lower your annual percentage rate, or APR. Other ways you can lower your interest rate include transferring your balance to a low-interest card. FYI: The interest rate is an introductory rate, so it’ll increase after the grace period ends. There’s also a transfer fee, which is usually a percentage of your balance, that you’ll have to pay right away.
Plan for end-of-year expenses
The holidays come the same time every year and are no big surprise. So why do we feel caught off guard when they come around? You can stay on top of any holiday-related and end-of-the-year expenses by setting up savings Goals to make sure you’ll have enough funds to get you by.
You can figure out how much you’ll need to sock away for Christmas gifts, holiday travel, or to save up to pay Uncle Sam when taxes for 2016 roll around, by looking at your bank and credit card statements from last year. Pro tip: Hashtag your end-of-year expenses so you can figure out how much you need to save the next go-round.
By getting a jump-start and setting up goals now, you’ll have six months to hit them. You’ll have the rest of the year to make serious headway with your money goals for the year and end strong! Onward and upward, and here’s to swift saving!
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