April is Financial Literacy Month! It's a great opportunity to brush up on your personal finance skills, take stock of your Q1 spending, and make sure you're financially on track for the rest of the year. As we all face serious inflation and price increases on just about every aspect of life, from necessities like groceries to housing prices to travel, being conscious of our financial goals and creating a vision to meet them is important.
Whether you're focused on budgeting, saving, debt management or financial planning, here are a few tips to help you balance your life to meet your financial goals.
- Check and monitor your credit score for free with credit card companies like Chase and CapitalOne. Some companies (Chase, CapitalOne, American Express, and Discover to name a few) offer free credit checks and monitoring 24/7 right from your online account or smartphone app for credit card customers. You can check your score as often as you want, see what factors are affecting it and whether there is an area you should work on, and stay on track!
- Automate savings so that you are paying yourself by contributing to your savings without any effort. If you work in a job that pays you via direct deposit, ask your payroll administrator if you can distribute your paycheck into multiple accounts, and designate separate account(s) and amounts for each - like a savings account, investment account, retirement or IRA account, etc. - for your direct deposit to go into. This way, you can't cheat yourself. Your savings will be automatic and less convenient to spend. You can also automate your savings by setting up a regularly recurring transfer from your main account into a savings (or other type of) account.
- Make some extra cash with spring cleaning by listing intact items you no longer use or need on platforms like Facebook Marketplace, Facebook seller groups, OfferUp, and Craigslist. Beware of scammers on these platforms and NEVER give your phone number out, even via private message, to a potential buyer who asks for it. All communication should happen directly in each of these platforms. You can also turn spring cleaning into a tax write-off by donating any items you are purging to charitable organizations and keeping documentation for the next tax season.
- Budget meal expenses by meal prepping for a few days or a week in advance. This will keep your grocery needs organized and save you multiple back-to-back trips to the grocery store for things you forgot that could snowball into spending more and more often on groceries. If you're eating out but want to be budget conscious, try this hack for big portions. Ask for a to-go box at the beginning of your meal, divide your meal in half, and box one half while you enjoy the other half. Now, you've achieved portion control and lunch for tomorrow.
- Travel on a budget by searching sites like Google Flights, TheFlightDeal, and TravelZoo for low fares and package deals. Make sure you're signed up for and utilizing frequent flyer miles programs and stay tuned for airline sales. Be careful of the restrictions and fees associated with booking through third-party sites.
Happy Balling on a Budget Month! Was this list helpful? If you have the perfect travel itinerary for a budget-conscious traveler or you can share more tips you are incorporating to stay financially on track, let us know in the comments!