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In these uncertain times, keeping a close and careful eye on your personal finances is more important than ever. To make sure you’re making the most of your money, here are some tips and ideas that are easy to implement, covering just about every aspect of saving, spending, earning, and investing.

Setup a realistic budget to make your personal finance goals stick. By balancing out what money is coming in versus what you have going out, you can ensure that you will not end up going into the negative and end up with late fees. This is a very easy goal to establish and will have amazing effects from the start.

Pay all of your household bills on time. When you pay a bill late you are usually charged a late fee and these fees can really add up over the course of a year. Late payments can also affect you credit rating making it harder for you to get a mortgage or credit card in the future.

When writing checks or using your debit card, always write down your purchase in your check ledger. You don’t have to do your subtracting at the very moment you make the purchase, but do make note of it. Calculate your expenses at least once a day. In this way, you will never be overdrawn.

Always buy used cars over new and save yourself money. The biggest depreciation in car value happens during the first 10,000 miles it is driven. After that the depreciation becomes much slower. Buy a car that has those first miles on it to get a much better deal for just as good a car.

Be cautious when loaning money to your children or grandchildren and consider offering the money as a gift instead. Before you loan any money to a family member, you should think about the consequences if the money is never repaid. Remember, loans between family members often cause a lot of arguments.

If you must get a credit card to manage your finances, try for a no-fee rewards card. While credit cards can easily cause more damage than do good, a rewards card will at least give you something back for the money you spend on it. Don’t be tempted to overspend to earn those rewards, though.

There are a lot of electronic expenses that you will have to pay for during the month. One tip that you can follow is to merge your internet, phone, and cable into one payment plan. There are many providers that offer discounts if you join their company for all three services.

Write your budget down if you want to stick to it. There is something very concrete about writing something down. It makes your income versus spending very real and helps you to see the benefits of saving money. Evaluate your budget monthly to make sure it’s working for you and that you really are sticking to it.

Be aware of credit repair scams. They will ask you to pay up front when the law requires they are paid after services are rendered. You will recognize a scam when they tell you that they can remove bad credit marks even if they are true. A legitimate company will make you aware of your rights.

Study your losses and learn from them. Many people like to ignore their losses and move on, but investigating them helps you to avoid making the same mistakes again. And after all, these mistakes cost you money; consider them a mini-course in what not to do and then you move on.

If you rely on credit cards to make most of your purchases, or for multiple high-dollar expenditures, consider having the balance transferred to a credit card with lower interest rates. This is especially helpful for those who plan to continue using their cards for a considerable period of time in the future.

US savings bonds are always a safe investment to make if you do not mind doubling your money every seven years. Purchasing savings bonds systematically can build up your portfolio rather quickly. Granted the returns are not quite as large as a good year in the stock market. However, they are high yielding, safe investments you can make.

Starting your kids out early and teaching them about personal financial issues, is a great way to help them in the future. Teach them the importance of saving by getting them a piggy bank, and let them understand what it means to work by paying for chores completed. Try to keep credit out of the equation.

Designate a day every month to pay all of your bills for that period. This will allow you to reduce the stress as you will feel that you will not have to procrastinate. Mark this day down on your calender and don’t neglect it. Missing this day can cause a domino effect.

No one likes to think about it, but keeping a current will is a crucial part of protecting your personal finances, in a worst case scenario. If you do not already have a will, then at least take the time to create and save documents that cover your primary assets. Any time you add an asset or a family member, you should also update your will.

Upgrade your checking account. Most people stay with an account they have had for a long time, even if that bank is applying expensive fees. Discover the fees you’re currently being charged at the bank you are at now. Try to discover a checking account which charges you less money so that you are retaining a larger amount of your money.

These tips will help you save more, spend wisely, and have enough left over to make smart investments. Now that you know the best rules of the financial road, start thinking about what to do with all that extra cash. Don’t forget to save, but if you’ve been especially good, a small personal reward could be nice too!