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Well, we made it boys and girls. It’s 2018. Since the turn of the calendar is a time for reflection I thought I’d write up a piece on personal financial tips that may be helpful. It’s probably worth noting that I’m not a financial wizard; I’m just a guy that pays off his bills at the end of each month.
Times Magazine (read: my girlfriend ) placed me as number 42 in their ‘100 Most Frugal Boys of 2017’ and it’s been said on Lulu that I’m ‘Cheaper than McDonalds.’ Chase Bank has said that I ‘have a nice haircut and pay my bills on time.’
Have a budget
Ugh, the dreaded B word. Typically when someone thinks of budget they think of a complex excel workbook with hundreds of rows and categories to track potential spending. All I’m proposing is a simple inflows and outflows section. Inflows are the money you earn from your J O B. Your outflows can consist of how much you spend on groceries each month, rent, utility bills, car payment, and student loans. After those necessities are taken care of you have your money for alcohol and savings.
Pay off your student loans
Set up a payment plan. Figure out how many years you’d like to take to pay off your student loans. From there you can figure out your projected monthly payments and see if that fits within your budget (see above). While student loans are a pain in the ass and the cost of higher education is much higher than it needs to be, that degree that you earned helped you get that amazing job that you absolutely love. I was fortunate enough to be able to pay off my student loans in two years by taking this approach and I gotta say it’s nice having that extra walking around cash to save (buy alcohol).
Pay your credit cards off at the end of every month
Buying things on your credit cards can get you in trouble quickly. While credit cards offer you the option to just make a minimum payment each month, I’d suggest that if you’re able to, pay off your entire monthly balance. That way the balance on there is not accumulating month after month and you start with a clean slate. If you’re paying off your credit card without issue I’d suggest opening a second one with different rewards. Having the second credit card will increase your total available limit, which reduces your balance-to-limit ratio, and overall will have a positive effect on your credit score.
Use secure passwords
I had my bank account hacked into when I purchased new checks. They used my social security number to log in, change my contact information so I wouldn’t find out of the notifications, and spammed my emails.
While I did eventually get my money back, because it’s FDIC insured, it was a big pain (and kind of violating tbh). Make sure to update your security questions and use a secure password. When possible, use 2 factor authentication or google authenticator. Remembering all those is certainly difficult, so write them down and store them in a safe location. Since PGP is such a tight knit community, I’ll even volunteer to store them for you. Just send them to me in an email, along with your social security number and list of security questions, and I’ll be sure to keep them safe!
Take your paycheck, see how much you should have left over, and move a percentage of that money into your savings account every month. If you want to go a step further, open a high yield savings account at a separate bank and put your savings there. That way there’s less temptation to spend the excess money and it can just sit there and safely earn interest. Capital One, Synchrony Bank, and Barclays all offer 1.30% savings / money market accounts. This may not seem very high but is a heck of a lot more than the .1% interest you’re earning right now.
Invest only what you can lose
Finally on financial tips that nobody asked from a guy named Nick- only invest what you can lose. Seems that people get themselves into trouble throwing money at an investment (penny stocks, cryptocurrencies, gambling) thinking that it can only go up. Well, they’re wrong. Look at your balances in your bank accounts and your budget that you made, take out only an amount that you’d feel comfortable with losing, and invest that. Eventually if your investments hit and you start making dough, put back your initial investment amount into your savings. Now you’re just working off of profits baby!
Now go out and celebrate the new financially savvy version of you! I suggest going clubbing…. At a wholesale club like Costco and buying a bunch of wine with your new Discover IT card since it’s 5% cash back this quarter! It’s 2018 after all, live it up!.
Image via Shutterstock