We’re getting ready to begin a brand new decade. Imagine if you could spend these next ten years without ever having to worry about money. These ten tips may not erase all of your financial doubts, but they are a starting point. Most of these are simply common sense. Others may sound easy on paper but in reality can actually be quite difficult. If you make a mistake don’t beat yourself up, just keep trying, soon many of these things will simply become second nature.
10. Stop going overboard on holidays. It’s a recession; it’s ok to spend less. In fact, since everyone is hurting you can easily convince yourself that you are doing them a favor by not buying expensive gifts that they have to reciprocate. Many people get into debt during the holidays. This is a bad way to start off the New Year.
9. Don’t answer emails from Nigeria. Or anyone who is getting an inheritance and needs to borrow your bank account for a minute; or someone who claims to be distantly related to you and needs to borrow your bank account for a minute; or someone who claims to be from the FBI, Homeland Security or any other position of authority and needs access to your passwords—are you sensing a theme here? Stay away from anyone asking for your account information or passwords.
8. Don’t answer emails, or click on links, from your bank or credit card. If you get an email claiming to be from your bank, or any institution where you have an account, do not click on any link inside the email. Go directly to your bank’s website or call your bank and ask them if they sent you an email. Do not give your account number to anyone who contacts you. If someone calls you ask them for a phone number, then call and verify that they are who they say they are and work where they say they work.
7. Don’t throw anything that could be used to steal your identity in the trash. It’s really easy to go through your garbage and take papers. Save any mail with account numbers or Social Security numbers and shred them. If you have a lot of papers you can hire a shredding service or you can buy an affordable home shredder at any office supply store.
6. Get rich quick schemes don’t work. The internet and late night TV are full of scam artists. And, yeah, earning millions while you sleep sounds great. Unfortunately, if it actually worked we would all be doing it.
5. Before you go back to school, make sure it’s necessary. If you’re considering putting down a substantial sum of money to learn a new trade, make sure that most jobs in that field require time in school or a degree. Your time (and money) might be better spent by getting an entry level job or an internship. This doesn’t apply to all fields but it definitely does apply to some. For example, you want to be a chef. You could spend thousands in culinary school or you can start working and work your way up. Many people with culinary degrees start at the bottom anyway; why not just start at the bottom, learn from a pro, make some money and not have the student loans hanging over you?
4. Don’t quit your job during a recession. Unemployment is high. There are not a lot of jobs out there. Keep your job as long as possible. If you really want a new job, start searching while you are already employed—just try not to do it at the office.
3. Don’t charge anything you can’t afford. If you don’t have the cash don’t use your credit card. Stop impulse buying—think about something before you buy, carefully consider whether or not you really need it. This way when you have an emergency you’ll still have good credit and some options.
2. Need more time? Stop watching TV. I know it’s so hard to tear yourself away from American Idol. And, you simply can’t give up on Smallville until you see Clark Kent fly. But one of the biggest time wasters is watching TV. If you are watching too much TV, you may want to consider canceling your cable.
1. Don’t spend more than you make. I know, it sounds simple but this is really and truly important. If you can follow this one rule, then you can stay out of debt. Stay out of debt and you’ll live your life with less stress and worry. You’ll pay less interest for big things, like cars and houses, because your credit score is high. In short, you’ll have more options. If you can do this, then you’re on the right track to a great new decade.
If you have questions or need help feel free to send us an email. We want 2010 to be the best year for all of you.