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Taking time to manage your money can be beneficial to your life. You will be less stressed, more organized and perhaps even get on the road to becoming debt-free. If you are on top of your bills, you won’t be surprised when your credit card bill comes rolling in. Here are some guidelines to help you better manage your finances.

1. Set Up a Budget to Track Your Spending

So you are always in the know with your finances, you might want to design a budget that fits your lifestyle. If you are budgeting for more people than yourself, then try to create a compatible budget that works for everyone. That includes rent, utilities, food, entertainment expenses, phone, date nights, babysitting and so on. As a couple, you might want to have a talk about what items are truly important as well as items you both could live without. You will be surprised by how much money you can save each month by following a budget.

Tip: Your budget can be adjusted as needed. Consider repurposing your budget every month to make sure you are properly managing your finances and not overspending. If you always stay within budget, then you will be less likely to fall into debt.

2. Check Your Online Banking Weekly

If you have online banking or mobile app, great! If you don’t, then you might want to consider looking into it. Having a banking app on your phone or online service will save you a trip and be more convenient.

Both will help you stay on track financially. Consider checking your app weekly; you might want to designate a day where you go over each charge. Checking your balance and charges every Friday might be the best strategy. Even though you are only checking your charges once a week, you should always be aware of your balance. Always know how much money is in each account to avoid overdraft fees.

3. Check Your Credit Card Statement Every Month

Check your credit card statement every month so you know your balance and can ensure all of your charges are correct. Identity theft and fraud are very common. If you see any fraudulent charges on your card, report it immediately to your provider. By checking your statement every month, you will also see how much your monthly payments are.

Consider paying over the minimum each month to decrease your debt. A golden rule is to only use 30% of your credit card limit or less to stay in a good credit standing.

4. Get a Copy of Your Credit Report at Least Once a Year

In order to keep a close eye on your finances, you might want to check your credit report annually. This will help you be aware of how much debt you have and if you’ve missed any payments. If you have, then you might want to set a reminder on your phone or sign up for automatic payments. You’re entitled to one free credit report per year, so use it! (You can pull your credit reports for free each year at AnnualCreditReport.com and can view two of your scores for free on Credit.com.) There is no harm in managing your credit history. A good credit history will only benefit you in the long run.

5. Practice Saving Money

Practice saving every month to ensure that you always have a back-up plan. You can choose to save for emergencies, medical expenses, retirement or even a vacation. Saving a specific amount of money each month will help you practice financial discipline and may even come in handy when you decide to make a big purchase.

Image: AleksandarNakic

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