Are you still paying bills by a paper check? Still waiting for a paper bill to come in the mail? This was the norm for most people even as recently as a couple of years ago. However, times have a way of changing and managing money is no exception. Here are a few ways to modernize your money management.
1. Minimize those paper bills. Have you read any of your bills/statements lately? Do you see a charge for a paper bill/statement? More and more companies are charging their customers to get a paper bill in the mail. You might be thinking “What? This company wants my business and then they charge me to get a bill from them? That’s absurd!” Yes, I agree, that’s absurd. However, in this slumping economy, everyone is trying to save money, including businesses. Save yourself some money and sign up to get e-bills. They’ll email you the bill or send you a link to download it and save it electronically. Check out wesabe.com or mint.com to help with payment due date reminders.
2. Use your credit card, but use it wisely. I’m not a fan of putting purchases on credit cards, but in some cases it can make sense. I have a Discover card that earns cash back on all purchases. So, when my refrigerator AND oven both died within four months of each other, those purchases went on my card. I paid them off by the statement due date and used the cash back to lower those prices even further than the price negotiating I did at the store.
3. Save your money. This sounds like a no-brainer but 50% of all Americans are still living paycheck to paycheck. Even if you think you can’t afford it, you can. In fact, many sources online say that saving is the new spending. The hardest part about saving is finding the time to go to the bank and open an account. Start by setting aside a small amount, like $20 a paycheck. If you get a raise, bump up your savings by the raise. If you switch from cable to satellite, that’s more savings to go in. If you shut off your home phone and just go with your cell phones, put that savings in too. It’s even easier to save when your employer offers direct deposit. And if your employer doesn’t offer direct deposit, continue to #4.
4. Ask your employer to offer direct deposit. Ok, so this one isn’t exactly a modern money management idea since it’s been around for a long time, but it’s still worth mentioning. Direct deposit is, in my opinion, the next best thing since sliced bread. No more trips to the bank, no more lost checks, and your paycheck is in your account when the bank opens. Plus, most employers allow you to have more than one direct deposit account, which makes it easier to stash money into savings. Since the money goes directly into your savings account, you’ll never miss it.
Even if you just use one of these ideas, you’ll be on the road to a more modernized way to manage your money.
Excerpts of this article were taken from Parade’s 3/21/10 publication and from money.cnn.com.