In this segment, we’ll show you ways to manage your monthly bills in a smarter, more effective manner. And if a car payment is among those bills, you’ll see how RateWorks can create your new loan with a better rate and a lower payment.
Money management is a personal exercise with lots of variables.
Nobody likes to be told how to manage money, because the circumstance itself is stressful enough. But everyone wants to learn how to develop better money habits, and then work hard to master them. Like everything else in life, it starts with a plan. Although you essentially may pay the same bills each month — other than that random surprise expense — money management is all about avoiding costly fees, higher interest costs, and dings on your credit report. Credit card interest, especially, can play havoc with any budget. Here’s a plan we like. It will help you sidestep unnecessary expenses and stay focused on writing smaller checks.
Make a list.
Jot down your recurring bills. Include rent or mortgage, child care, taxes, food, utilities, cable, car payment, insurance, healthcare/prescriptions and, especially, credit card debt. Prefer to go digital? Microsoft Excel offers several popular spreadsheet options for budgeting.
Keep bills and statements in one place.
Denial is not permitted here. Having all your ongoing and unanticipated debt in one place and in your face will help you stay focused. It will also help you avoid costly late fees and interest charges.
Set a debt date.
Choose a date and time when you pay your bills, whether it’s once or twice each month. Stick to these dates. And then challenge yourself each month to find at least one instance to avoid a fee, reduce interest, or even question a charge. But no reward purchases if you do!
Consider online banking.
Your bank makes it easy to automate your bill paying. It helps streamline the process and ensures your regular bills are paid on time. Blend automation with your check-writing activity for a more efficient overall plan.
Know when payments are due. Know when grace periods end, and know when credit card interest begins. Create a list of 1-800 CustomerService phone numbers in the event you need to negotiate more time. And if you can’t —pay the bill. Done? Now go balance your checkbook.
Separate wants from needs.
Yes, this one hurts. But if you are really serious about managing your monthly bills, wants need to wait. Your time will come around again!
And about that car loan.
This is a part of paying attention. Many drivers are paying too much for their auto loan based on the higher interest rates of the past. RateWorks offers a fast and easy way to refinance your loan, creating a better rate with better terms and lower monthly payments. We love the thinking from our money-mastering friends at Debt.org. They suggest, no matter your income, to divide your debt obligations into the three basic food groups — fixed, variable, and discretionary expenses. The discretionary pot only exists if the first two obligations are covered (see wants vs. needs above) and only returns once those recurring and unexpected expenses are reconciled. Then, those dollars can be applied to entertainment, recreation or, best case, savings.
As we noted, budgeting strategies will vary for everyone. But one element is universal — creating a purposeful budget is a great step toward building a better financial future. Why not start managing your monthly bills more effectively today by seeing just how much your car affects your monthly budget with our handy car expenses calculator.