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In today’s difficult economic times, everyone is looking for ways to improve their personal financial situation. The key to successfully managing your personal finances, is knowledge. This article is jam-packed with tips and advice that, if applied correctly, will help you to get a handle on your personal finances and upgrade your life.

You need to meet certain qualifications before you can rent an apartment. Be sure you have verifiable income, acceptable credit, and enough funds for the security deposit and the first month’s rent. Don’t forget that if you have less than perfect credit, the electric, gas, phone, and cable companies usually ask for a security deposit before they establish service under your name.

Know your financial goals and limits and keep them in mind. You need to be aware of what it is that you can and cannot do in the market. If you lack this awareness, you may make a detrimental mistake in your finances, which can in turn, directly affect your financial goals.

To keep from draining your bank accounts, define a budget and stick to it. Estimate how much you spend every month on bills, groceries, travel expenses and entertainment. Allow very little leeway and put the rest of your paycheck in your savings account in case of emergencies that were not accounted for in your budget.

There are many ways that you can find great deals on clothes, to put more money in your pocket and limit overspending. Avoid shopping at the upscale stores in the mall and shop at a clearance store, which carries the same brand named items, at much lower prices to fit your budget.

Instead of going to a car dealership and signing a lease for a new car, take a look at all of the used cars in the lot. Sometimes it is better to purchase a used car, as you will pay a much lower price and have resale value in the end.

Try to stick to your budget as best you can. If your expenses are increasing considerably, take a moment to reconsider your renovations. You may have hired the wrong contractor or may be straying away from your original idea. It is easy to get carried away when making changes, but stay focused.

Make sure you have some emergency savings squirreled away. If you don’t and a major expense pops up like car repairs or medical bills, all these bills could end up on your credit card. This can put you even further in debt. It’s better to have a few months money built up to cushion these emergencies.

Pay down your most expensive debt first. For many consumers, the best way to earn a return on their money is to cut down credit card debt. Even if you could be lucky enough to earn five percent in a CD, your money is better spent paying off that maxed credit card that charges you 14.99 percent.

Shop the dollar stores. You can often buy the same products in dollar stores for a fraction of the price you would pay in bigger department stores. Whether you are buying toothbrushes, over-the-counter medicines, cosmetics or any one of hundreds of other products there are big savings to be had in dollar stores.

Don’t be afraid to discuss your finances with your friends and family. When you do this, you won’t have to feel guilty if you decline an invitation because you can not afford it. If people don’t know why you’re turning down their invitations to dinner, or why you’re refusing to attend a group trip, they may think you’re upset with them. Stay close to your friends, and be open about what you are going through.

Do not overlook credit unions when you are looking for a place to open a checking or savings account. Credit unions usually offer higher interest rates and lower fees than commercial banks. However, the services offered and access to ATMs might be limited. Still, credit unions are a good alternative if you are looking for higher interest rates.

It was once said that the only safe way to double one’s money is to fold it in half. This is basically telling you that there are no sure things out there, so in order to guard your finances, make sure you’re not playing wild and loose with any type of investment opportunities. Your money won’t double, but it could definitely disappear.

Check up on your checking account. New regulations enacted by Congress have spurred banks to change the terms of their checking accounts. Examples of this include abolishing free checking and raising the required balanced to avoid service fees. Look into a credit union if you are paying higher fees due to these changes.

Don’t spend any money one day a week. Most of us are used to spending a little money every day on little expenses, but if you’re working on your personal finances, make a decision to stop spending at least one day a week. This will help put you in the right mindset for the rest of the week.

Never invest all of your money into one company regardless of how good the company has been doing. While you do want to put some money into a company you know is doing well, you should diversify in case something happens and that company starts to lose a lot of money.

Do not spend more money than you actually earn. If you have things you want to buy, and you know that buying them will set you back, do not buy them. The last thing you want is to get into debt from trying to live far beyond your means.

As it was mentioned at the top of this article, as far as the economy goes, things are not looking particularly great right now. Many people in this country are going through financial difficulties. By studying the knowledge and information contained in this article, and applying it to your situation, you can improve your personal finances.