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Stay Ahead Of The Pack With This Personal Finance Advice

It is strange that, considering the vital nature of the subject

, many people lack training in managing their personal finances. Personal finance skills can save money, improve savings and increase one's effective income. Fortunately, it is never too late to educate yourself on the subject. Here are a few quick personal finance tips that anyone might find useful:

If you are upside down on your home, think about "strategic default." This is the practice of intentionally defaulting on a loan because the asset the loan is paying for has dropped in value. This is an especially good idea if your financial situation is such that you will probably face foreclosure in the future anyway.

Cut out that unused land line. If you don't talk on the phone much, a paid in advance cell phone could be significantly cheaper in the long run. Some mobile cell companies offer 1000 minutes of prepaid time for $100. This can last some people a year. For comparison, most land lines would cost $300 or more for that same year of service.

Compare prices. Stretch your personal finances! The grocery store can be very tricky from a financial perspective. To save money, evaluate what products you'd prefer to splurge on, and what costs you can cut back on by buying the store brand. While it's important to eat nutritious and tasty foods, you just might find that you can eat just as well - while also being a bit more frugal about it.

Sign up for a rewards credit card if you qualify. You may be able to turn your expenses into things that you need. However, you must be able to pay your card balance in full to take advantage of the benefits. Otherwise, the rewards card will just become another debt burden.

If you own stocks, be careful about trying to predict what the market will do. Many people make the mistake of selling stocks with the intention of buying them again when the market drops. That is not wise, since you never know exactly when the market will dip low again.

Enduring an economy such as we have at the moment is very stressful, and it is important to think smart, when it comes to your money. Make changes to your budget whenever necessary, and do what you can to make things easier for you and your family. There are always ways to save a little extra money.

One of the best ways to set a strong financial foundation for the future is to engage in safe driving. The safer you drive, the less accidents that you will get into, which will reduce the costs of repair and give you the best possible insurance rate for your situation.

Save money by packing your lunch for work instead of going out to a restaurant. You can easily spend $10 to $15 per meal every time you go out for lunch. That can add up to a significant amount of money every month. If you pack your lunch, you would be surprised at how quickly you can save up for that big expense item.

Cut down on impulse buying with the "one week rule". If you want to buy something, make yourself wait a week before actually spending the money. Chances are, your spending will decrease because you probably will not even remember what you wanted to buy last week or the week before.

Consider signing up for a flexible spending account (FSA). FSA allows you to pay for dependent care expenses, commuting and medical expenses and prescriptions or health insurance co-payments using pre-tax dollars. This simply means that you don't have to pay taxes from the funds you use to pay these regularly occurring expenditures.

Pay more than your minimum amount due on school loans, mortgages, credit cards and any other kind of loan. It is going to help you save a good bit of money over the course of the loan. Much of your monthly payments are going to the interest and paying extra is going toward your principal.

If you've been with the same cell phone provider for more than a year, take time to go over your next itemized statement. Check to ensure that you are using all of the services that you are paying for. For example, you may be able to discontinue call blocking or forwarding, reduce your data usage plan or eliminate text messaging services.

If possible, avoid credit cards. Using a credit card makes keeping track of your expenses harder and a lot of people end up spending more than they can afford because of credit cards. Pay off your credit card with the highest interests and look for a credit card with a better interest rate and rewards that you will actually use.

To help you keep better track of your money, be sure to categorize all of your expenses. Have one category for fixed expenses like the mortgage payment, another for variable expenses like the phone bill and credit card payments, and a third for things like shopping trips or meals out.

Be energy efficient! Change all of the light bulbs in your home to CFL lights, use energy efficient appliances, even if you have to buy new ones! This will save you money on your electric bill and perhaps even get you tax credits when tax season rolls around! Check tax laws to find out!

Stick to your goals. When you see the money start pouring in, or the money flying away, it can be hard to stay the course and stick with what you originally planned. Before making changes, keep in mind what you really want and what you can really afford; and you'll save yourself money.

Learning to handle money wisely is a great idea for self-improvement. By taking care of finances, a wise person reaps the same benefits that they would by getting a raise. After all, making dollars stretch further is just as effective as making more dollars. Time spent refining personal finance skills is never time wasted.

by: Chirag Savaliya

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Stay Ahead Of The Pack With This Personal Finance Advice