10 Ways to Overhaul your Finances:


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Slash the recurring billing or no longer needed expenses.

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Carefully read through one of your credit-card statements, staying on the lookout for ongoing monthly fees that you may have forgotten about.
Cancel any club memberships you don’t use and magazine subscriptions you don’t read.
Resolve to stop spending hard-earned money on lottery tickets.

Pay yourself first.

This is a good time for an honest self-analysis: What have your saving habits been like in the past year?
If it seems like all the money you make falls straight through your fingers and gets gobbled up by bills and other expenses, think hard about a reasonable amount you could start to view as yet another monthly bill. Could you handle one more $50 bill? How about a $200 bill? Even $15 or $20 towards saving is better than nothing.
Start squirreling that money away for yourself, pronto.

Say goodbye to late fees.

Avoid finance charges if your credit-card bill is regularly due before you’ve received your paycheck, by calling the credit-card company and ask to have your due date changed. It takes a few months for this change to take place, but it’s well worth the wait.

Look at your vehicle expenses.

If it’s feasible where you live, try commuting to work by bus or by another form of public transportation.
It could save you money and give you added reading and relaxation time.

Pay ahead on your mortgage.

By paying an extra $100 a month toward the principal on a $150,000, 30-year mortgage with a fixed interest rate of 6.5 percent, you’ll save more than $51,000 in interest and be able to retire your mortgage nearly seven years early. An extra monthly payment of even $20 or $25 can make a surprising difference. Always compare … you may benefit more if you could invest that extra payment in an interest-bearing account offering a guaranteed higher rate of return than your mortgage rate. There can be a  psychological benefit of owning your home outright and spending far less on interest over time.

Shed credit-card debt.

Use your credit cards cautiously and sparingly, always being sure to pay the entire balance off in full and on time each month. But if you’re already in a serious credit-card debt as 2006 winds to a close ‘ as millions of people are ‘ try this: Transfer your credit-card balances to a card with a lower interest rate ASAP. You’ll save $730 if you transfer a $2,000 balance from an 18-percent card to an 8.25-percent card and then pay off your balance at a rate of $50 a month. Better yet, transfer balances to cards with rates of 0, 1 or 2 percent and concentrate on paying them off entirely while those low rates last.

Decide where to put that ‘payment.’

If you plan to sock money away for several years until you reach a specific savings goal, your ‘pay-yourself-first’ money could become automatic contributions to a mutual fund or other stock-oriented fund. If you need to keep your money to be more liquid than that, consider an online savings or money market account that gets linked to your current checking account. Always be sure your investments are insured through Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC). Some online savings accounts offer higher interest as opposed to paltry yields of about 0.2 percent to 0.5 percent for traditional savings accounts.

Stop Smoking or Make your Own Wine.

Depending on the wallop packed by the ‘sin taxes’ where you live, you could save more than $2,000 a year if you go from being a pack-a-day smoker to a non-smoker. You’ll also qualify for significantly cheaper life-insurance rates after you quit. If you are not a smoker, you can also save on ‘sin taxes’ by making your own wine or beer. Alcohol and cigarette products are heavily taxed.

Max out your retirement savings.

Contribute as much as you can to a tax-deferred retirement plan. You’ll get an automatic tax break, plus your employer may match part of your contribution ‘ often 50 cents for each dollar you contribute for up to 6 percent of your pay. If your employer doesn’t offer this benefit, open a traditional individual retirement account and start saving anyway.

Review your estate plan.

Do you have a will or a living trust? If not, get that taken care of this year! If you already have such documents drawn up, make sure they’re up to date. This is especially important if you recently had children or if kids might be in your future but no matter what, these are vital steps for everyone to take regardless of their marital or family status.

Analyze your workday expenses.

Instead of eating in restaurants every single day, bring your lunch to work from home as often as you can.
Take your clothes to the dry cleaners early to avoid paying extra for same-day service.