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Some people go to extremes when they first decide to take control of their financial lives.  They’ll go from spending without a care in the world to implementing a budget that’s far too strict.  Or they become overly ambitious and try to tackle 20 goals at once.  The key to successfully managing your finances is to keep it simple.  Here are some tips that can make life easier.

Put your savings on autopilot

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s the importance of having an emergency fund.  Automating your savings makes it a lot easier to hit your financial goals.  Decide how much to transfer between your accounts and the frequency, then sit back and watch your savings grow (as long as you don’t touch it of course).

Go paperless

Ditch the clutter and sign up for paperless statements.  Every month you’ll receive an email when your statement is ready to be viewed.  Download a copy and spend a few minutes reviewing the transactions to ensure that everything is correct.  It may be helpful to create separate folders for each of your accounts to stay organized.

Take advantage of mobile check deposits or direct deposit

Long gone are the days of going to the bank for every transaction.  Many banks now allow mobile check deposits to save you the trip.  Simply endorse your check, take pictures of both sides, and hit submit.  You’ll be notified when your deposit has been accepted and the funds are available.  Alternatively, you can sign up for direct deposit with your employer.  Just provide them with your bank account and routing numbers and the money will be deposited directly into your account on payday.

Stick to using only one credit card

The average American has 4 credit cards, but you’ll be better off using only one.  It will be easier to track your spending and due dates, so you avoid late fees and interest.  One late payment can stay on your credit report up to seven years and negatively impact your credit score.  To avoid a late payment, pay your Minimum Balance Due on time. To avoid excessive interest expense, always pay your full statement balance on time.

Or better yet, just make all your purchases with cash

Credit cards are great when used responsibly.  The problem is many people use them to buy things they can’t actually afford.  One of the best ways to avoid debt is to use cash or a debit card for every purchase.  Spending this way will force you to make smarter decisions with your money because the funds are limited.  If the money isn’t in your wallet or bank account, you won’t be able to buy anything.

Learn to live with less

We’re all guilty of buying things we don’t need.  Some we only use once or twice before tossing aside.  You’d probably kick yourself if you saw how much money you’ve thrown down the drain over the years.  The good news is you can change your ways by learning to live with less.  Taking this approach will help you save money, focus on what matters, and spend less time doing chores.  Go through your belongings and get rid of anything you haven’t used in a while (or ever).  Any items in good condition can be donated to someone in need or sold to your local thrift shop for extra cash.

Get out of debt

Forty-eight percent of Americans are so stressed about money that they occasionally lose sleep over it.  Many of those people are struggling to pay off credit card debt.  If you find yourself losing sleep over your money issues, it’s time to break the cycle.  There are two popular strategies you can use to pay off debt.  First is the snowball method.  Most of your money will go towards paying off your smallest debt while making the minimum payments on the rest.  Once that’s out the way, you’ll move to your next smallest debt.  The other approach is the avalanche method.  You’ll start with the bill that has the highest interest rate while making minimum payments on the rest of your bills.  Once that debt has been paid off, you’ll repeat the process with the bill that has the next highest interest rate.

Focus on one or two financial goals

We all have dreams.  Maybe you want to fix your credit, buy a home, start a business, or retire early.  No matter what it is you hope to achieve, it’s best to focus on one or two goals at a time and give it your all.  When you try to do too much at once, you’re either not going to put forth your best effort or you may get overwhelmed and give up completely.  Decide what’s important, come up with a detailed plan and execute.  Once you’ve checked it off your list, move on to your next goal.