By Rose McKellen, Special for USDR.
1) Use Cash.
You’ll often hear debt experts talk about the concept of “invisible money.” While this sounds like a great magic trick, it’s actually a byproduct of the increasing role of automated monetary transactions. Using credit and debit cards makes money sometimes seem invisible, intangible, and not quite real. How many times have you made a debit purchase at the store and walked out without knowing exactly how much you paid? This epitomizes the concept of invisible money. If you’re trying to stick to a budget, one of the easiest strategies you can implement is to simply use “real” money—cash. You’ll be far more aware of exactly how much you’re spending, and how much you have left.
2) Refinance your loans.
If you’re still carrying the same mortgage you were 10 years ago, it could be time to consider refinancing or finding a better option. Every now and again it’s a good idea to check into sites like LowVARates.com, which can show you what options are available for your existing loans, as well as any you may be planning for the future.
3) Change your Due Dates
If you’re like most people, you probably pay many different bills over the course of a month, from rent to utilities to credit cards to car payments. It can be difficult and frustrating and time consuming to keep up with all of the various due dates and make sure everything gets paid on time. You might be surprised to learn that it’s usually quite easy to change the due date of your bills; it usually only takes a phone call to creditors that offer Low VA Rates to make the switch. Use this to your advantage, and have all of your due dates moved to the same day. This way, you know exactly when all your bills are due each month.
4) Be Persistent
Developing a budget and sticking to it isn’t something that happens in one 10 minute accounting meeting. Staying on budget requires persistent and continued effort. That doesn’t mean you’ll need to spend every waking moment checking your account balance, but it does mean you’ll need to periodically evaluate your financial situation. Set aside a designated time of the week – 15 minutes or so is usually enough – to briefly review your finances. These mini budget check-ins will keep you firmly on budget, and you’ll spot any potential road blocks like auto repairs far earlier than you would otherwise.
Rose McKellen, is a freelance writer from Austin, Texas. She loves going to rodeos, music, art and football. Go Cowboys!