Is your money magic? That is, does it keep disappearing? We all know the feeling. It seems that one day you’ve got plenty of cash, and the next, you’re wondering where it all went.
If your money is doing a disappearing act, here are five ways to keep it around:
• Keep track of your spending. If your bank balance is mysteriously dropping, start writing down where that money is going. Did you stop at the convenience store to pick up a pack of gum? Was your gym membership fee automatically deducted from your checking account? These things add up. While it can feel like a burden to keep track of every penny, doing it for a little while can give you a better sense of where your funds are going. Commit to keeping track for two weeks, or a month if you can. At the end of your experiment, you’ll have a better idea where your money is disappearing. And remember, you don’t have to use a pencil and notebook to write this stuff down anymore. It’s 2016! There are many apps and online budgeting tools available to help you track your spending. Try one of these to make it a little easier—and more fun, too.
• Get a 0% APR credit card. If you’re in the habit of carrying a balance on your credit cards, you’re probably paying interest each month—not to mention, lengthening the amount of time it will take to pay off those debts. Apply for a new, low-interest credit card. The best thing is to get one with an introductory 0% APR offer. That way, you won’t pay anything extra at all.
• Pay your bills on time. If you’re paying bills late, you’re probably paying late fees. Whether it’s a credit card, a phone bill, or the electric bill, most companies charge extra if the payment isn’t received by the due date. Sign up for automatic payments or payment reminders so you don’t get hit with a late fee and waste money paying it.
• Use a prepaid card instead of cash. Carrying cash around can be dangerous. It’s all too easy to spend it and not remember where it went. And it can easily be lost, as well. Get in the habit of carrying a prepaid card instead. Load it with funds and use it anywhere that accepts credit cards, instead of paying with cash. You’ll be able to see where you spend your money, and you’ll never accidentally drop a five-dollar bill out of your pocket again.
• Apply for a no-fee credit card. Even if you don’t pay interest on your purchases (because you pay them off each month) and you pay on time, you could be losing money to annual fees, over-the-limit fees, or foreign transaction fees charge by your credit card issuer. Get a card that doesn’t charge any of these fees, and hold on to a little more of your hard-earned money.