If you’ve had enough of living paycheck to paycheck, it’s time to start doing something about it!  You need a little padding in case something happens!

Credit Cards.  Spending money on your credit card is fine – IF you have the money to pay if off.  For instance, I have an American Express card that earns SkyMiles.  I love it.  It takes time to earn enough miles, but it’s worth it if you like traveling.

  • Always plan to pay off your balance every time you get a statement.  If you need a couple statements (if you have a larger purchase you need to make), that’s fine, too.  Just have a plan. Borrowing money with a 20% interest rate isn’t the best idea, so don’t let debt accumulate.
  • Be sure to set up “auto pay” if you tend to be forgetful because the late fees aren’t worth it.
  • NEVER take a cash advance out of your credit card. The interest rate on that will cripple you.
  • If you need a go-to card, pick one that will earn you something – airline miles, cash back, etc.
  • Don’t ever take advantage of those nifty “balance transfer” checks they send you.  There are hidden glitches with those, and it’ll cost you more than you think. (This I know…I tried it once.)

Emergency Funds.  You need some.  Have enough set aside to be able to sustain yourself (and your family if you’re the sole household earner) for 3 months.  Don’t be chintzy.  You’ll need to sit down and figure out how much that is for you.  Make sure to include an amount for all your bills, gas, groceries, medications, and insurance (home, car, etc.).  If you pay for something every six months, add up the total and divide it by 6 to get a monthly amount.

Savings. It’s hard to save money these days when your “big bank” savings account earns you .0005% interest. OK, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but you know what I’m talking about. When tax time comes and you didn’t even get $10 to declare in interest (the minimum amount the IRS requires you to declare), that’s a sign.  There are other options out there!  Do some research!  Online banks have really gained popularity. Your funds are accessible (it might take a few extra days to get them), but since they don’t have as much overhead, you can earn more money!  I use and love Ally.com.  I’m not plugging them, but check them out – along with their competitors. Find one that’s right for you and get started saving!  Make it a goal to get more than $10 in interest this year!  You can use your new savings account to be the keep of your emergency fund, too!  Just make sure you’re aware of how long it would take to get the money if you were to need it – or pay off the credit card if you borrowed from it.

Reduce your bills.  Spend some time combing through your spending habits. Do you NEED everything you’re spending your money on?  Are there any promotions you can take advantage of?  Check out my post for some bill-reducing ideas.

Start a side hustle.  If you’re entrepreneurial or just want your free time to earn its keep, you may want to consider a second gig for some extra cash. Maybe you make something and can sell it at farmers markets or street fairs.  It’s worth looking into!  Just don’t buy a bunch of supplies if you’re not sure you’ll be able to sell enough to recover ALL your costs and be in the black. Start slow, and see how things go.  Or get a second part time job.  A lot of retail places need help during the holidays, so that could always be an option.

Plan for Retirement.  Even if you haven’t really done much to prepare, it’s time to start. Check out my post for some retirement planning options.

– Happy Saving!