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Simple Financial Steps
Whether your financial picture requires a major overhaul or just some fine tuning, there are some simple steps to help you spend less and end up with more in your wallet. NBCNews.com offers these suggestions:
Check out your TV bill. If you are like a lot of people, you signed up for a premium channel during a free trial period from your cable or satellite provider, then never canceled when you had to start paying. Take a few minutes to decide what channels you and your family really watch, and then get rid of the ones you don’t. Also look into whether you can catch your favorite shows for free or almost free from services such as Hulu and AppleTV.
Save automatically. It doesn’t really matter how you do this, as long as you automatically put something into savings with every paycheck. Check with your employer to see if you have an automatic savings feature at work, or talk to your financial adviser about setting something up. The important thing is to put money into savings that are reasonably liquid without you having to do anything.
Look at your 401(k). This is another way to save automatically, although because a 401(k) is tax-advantaged retirement saving, there are restrictions on how and when you can use the money. Look at your 401(k) to see if you are saving enough and investing appropriately. You should be saving at least to the company match, and you should be rebalancing annually.
Look at credit card rewards. Credit cards are again ramping up the rewards offers, so take a look at the cards you have and evaluate what you get. If you pay off your balance every month, use the card that gives the best rewards. (If you carry a balance, use the card that has the lowest interest rate – and come up with a plan for paying off the balance.) There are several online sites that can help you compare credit card offers.
Consider refinancing. Mortgage rates are low, and home prices are starting to increase. If you are planning to stay in your home for several years, you might be able to save a couple hundred dollars a month by refinancing.
Buy life insurance. After a period of low rates, prices are starting to head back up. So if you have people who depend on you, make sure they have the protection they need.
Update your resume. There are signs that the job market is improving, and you want to be ready if something comes up that interests you.
Get organized. Use an online or software program (or programs) to help you get a handle on your financial reality. You should be able to chart and track things like your credit card usage, your net worth, your household budget and your retirement planning. After all, you can’t fix what you don’t understand.