Managing money can be difficult, and I'm definitely not the first person saying that. You've got to think about all your bills, like mortgages or rent, groceries and car insurance, and they all add up so fast. Plus as a student, I have to figure out how much extra money I need to cover the difference between what OSAP gives me and how much my schooling actually costs.
This is the part when some people are already getting stressed out and confused, and that's pretty normal for a generation that's, put simply, not the greatest with our finances. Credit card debt is rising rapidly which is bad because once you're in debt, it can be incredibly hard to get out of it.
Luckily, there's a few tips that you can use to make managing your finances, whether that be bills or credit cards, a little bit easier.
Track when your bills are due and turn on auto-pay
Just keeping track of what you have to pay for and when it's due is something lots of people surprisingly don't do. Each month we pay for so many different things — car payments, cellphone bills, Netflix and music streaming services to name a few — that it can be hard to track all of them.
There's quite a few apps out there that can help you out with this, but I'm recommending Bobby because it's what I use. It's available on iOS, but charges a couple dollars to add more than a handful of subscriptions to the app (the built-in reminders app on your phone would function perfectly for this too). You just add your subscription, specify how much it costs and when it comes out of your account, and then set up a reminder for when it's due.
The smartest thing you can do is to set up all your payments to come out on the same day, and to preferably make it the day you get paid. When you have them all coming out on one day, it's easier to make sure you have enough money in your account, plus if it's your payday, it's like the money was never there in the first place.
Record your transactions
Using our cards to pay for products just by tapping makes it hard to remember we actually made a purchase, and to by extent budget for it. You might not think that your grande Caffe Misto will make a difference in your budget, but when you drink it every workday it adds up to more than $65.
There's lots of apps that will automatically keep track of what you spend and how much it cost. My favourite is Mint because setting it up is quicker than reading this article; just sign-up, link your cards and accounts and you're good to go. You can set up budgets for categories like clothing or coffee shops and once you've hit your limit, it'll send you an email.
The app also gives you a total of the funds in all your accounts, taking into account both checking/savings accounts and credit cards to give you a bigger picture of your financial situation.
Set up auto-deposits to your savings account
Some banks offer the option to automatically deposit some money into your savings account each month, which is great on their part. You can choose to deposit money from each paycheque or at a different frequency and then just forget about it.
Setting up a savings account gives people the perception that you initially need a lot of money to put into it, but that's definitely not the case. There's always somewhere to start, and putting even $25-$50 per month into your account can go a long way.
For people with banks that don't support this type of feature try out Wealthsimple, which offers the same features but will invest $5,000 for you at no cost. Typical banks might charge some small fee, usually less than half a percent, for investing your money. (You can get a total of $10,000 managed free for a year when you sign up using this link).
Make it impossible to access your savings
The harder your savings are for you to access, the less likely you'll spend them on something you might not actually need. It can be a good idea to set up a different bank account just for putting savings into, then cutting up the card that came with it so you can't spend the money in it.
Employers can usually deposit your pay into multiple different accounts, making it easier to save while keeping the temptation of spending the money out of mind.
Don't purchase things you can't afford
For people who are just starting off with credit cards, this is new concept to follow. When you're purchasing something with your credit card, be sure to first ask yourself "do I really have enough money to pay this off, right now?"
The best rule to follow for using your credit to pay is not to unless you have the money to cover the purchase available in your wallet or on a debit card. When people don't follow rules like this, they end up going into a spiral of debt that's hard to get out of.
Pay off your credit card on time as much as possible, as well. When you miss your first payment your interest will increase a few percentages, but if you keep missing payments it'll rise even more. There's numerous stores that'll let you pay off your card right at the register (while still collecting your valued points), so take advantage of that if you're the forgetful type.
Though these tips won't instantly help you get out of debt, they're definitely a good way to start off being financially responsible. The easiest and most effective thing you can do is just take it one step at a time, or hire a financial consultant if you can't handle it on your own.