When we are careful in the way we spend our money, it enhances the likelihood that over time our personal wealth will grow rather than stagnate or even shrink. This is what personal finance is all about. By taking even the smallest steps to ensure we are spending our money wisely, we are taking steps to secure our future.
If you are materially successful in life, eventually you will get to the point where you have more assets that you did in the past. Unless you are continually looking at your insurance policies and adjusting liability, you may find yourself underinsured and at risk of losing more than you should if a liability claim is made. To protect against this, consider purchasing an umbrella policy, which, as the name implies, provides gradually expanding coverage over time so that you do not run the risk of being under-covered in the event of a liability claim.
If you are currently paying for your checking account, it’s time to find a new one. Banks compete for your business, and so many offer free checking with amenities and services similar to those you used to have to pay for. Shop around and find one that won’t charge you on a monthly basis.
If holding a garage sale or selling your things on craigslist isn’t appealing to you, consider consignment. You can consign just about anything these days. Furniture, clothes, jewelry, you name it. Contact a few stores in your area to compare their fees and services. The consignment store will take your items and sell them for you, cutting you a check for a percentage of the sale.
If you are out of school, go ahead and get your various student loans consolidated into one account. You will be able to combine multiple loans into one fixed interest rate and you will avoid having to remember to pay multiple lenders and accounts each month. Shop around for the best interest rate before choosing a lender.
Home equity loans are tempting but dangerous. If you miss a payment on a home equity loan, you could lose your home. Make sure that you can afford the monthly payments and that you have a significant emergency savings built up before taking out any loans against your home.
Keep track of debit card purchases. Always make a note on paper or your phone as soon as you swipe that card so that you do not forget. Debit cards are very convenient, but also make it easy to overspend a budget, and unless you keep a record it is way too easy to overdraw a bank account without realizing it.
Automatic bill payments should be reviewed quarterly. Most consumers are taking advantage of many of the automatic financial systems available that pay bills, deposit checks and pay off debts on their own. This does save time, but the process leaves a door wide open for abuse. Not only should all financial activity be reviewed monthly, the canny consumer will review his automatic payment arrangements very closely every three to four months, to ensure they are still doing exactly what he wants them to.
One of the things that you need to take into consideration with the rising rates of gasoline is miles per gallon. When you are shopping for a car, look into the car’s MPG, which can make a huge difference over the life of your purchase in how much you spend on gas.
Personal finance is determined as much by the small decisions we make in life as by the larger ones. Many small purchases over time, after all, add up to the cost of one larger purchase. Whether the two totals equate to value is something that should be considered well before that first dollar is ever laid down in payment.