With the world reopening after COVID, it’s easy to spend more than intended. However, it’s important to keep your spending in check so you don’t end up with mountains of credit card debt! Now that a couple months of summer have passed, it’s a good idea to do a bit of a summer spending checkup. Just like you need a checkup with your doctor every year to make sure your physical health is good, you also need periodic financial checkups. Let’s take a look at a few different parts of your finances to make sure you’re able to get back on track if you’ve slipped up!
Summer Spending: Too Much?
How do you know if you’re spending too much? Take a look at your bank and credit card statements and see if your spending matches up with your budget. Add up the total amount of money you’ve spent for the month from both your checking account and your credit card – remember, that credit card isn’t free money. If the money you’ve spent has exceeded the amount that you’ve budgeted for monthly expenses, you’ve spent too much! Next, take a look at what you were spending money on – was it mostly restaurants? Online shopping? Entertainment?
If you notice you spent too much over the last month or two, don’t beat yourself up. It happens to the best of us! You’ll just need to be more conscientious of where your money is going moving forward. Try using cash only for the next month if your credit card is the culprit of your bad summer spending habits. When you go shopping or out to eat, you’ll be limited to the amount of cash you bring, so you’re essentially forcing yourself to stick to your budget!
Stay on Track with Summer Savings Goals
Your summer spending checkup should include a quick check-in with your savings goals too. Have you been putting money into your savings account every month? If so, could you increase the amount you’re saving? If not, can you cut back on spending so that you can afford to put money into savings? One way to force yourself to save money so you don’t even have to think about it is to automate your savings. While you’re at it, check on your retirement accounts. Check to ensure your investments still make sense for your age. Generally, younger workers can invest more aggressively than older workers who are closer to retirement.
While you’re taking inventory of your summer spending, take a look at your debt as well. Strategize your debt payments in a way that saves you the most money. Often, the Debt Avalanche Method – a method of debt repayment that entails paying off the debts with the highest interest rates first – is the smartest way to go. If you find that debt is consistently one of your main financial problems, you may want to seek professional help. This is where a nonprofit credit counseling agency comes in. They can help you by evaluating your overall financial situation, coming up with a workable budget for you, and determining the best way to pay down your debt. One of the options they may present to you is a debt management program. In this program, your debts will all be combined into one monthly payment, making it easier for you to keep track of your finances. The credit counseling agency negotiates lower fees and interest rates with your creditors as well, which will save you money.
Final Tips on Your Summer Spending Checkup
Even if you’ve veered off-course with your budget and spending, you can still reset and get back on track! By sticking to your budget, automating your savings, and coming up with a debt repayment strategy, you’ll be on the path to financial freedom before you know it. Stay cool out there!
If you struggle to pay off debt, ACCC can help. Call 800-769-3571 to speak to one of our certified credit counselors today.