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Updated on Sunday, January 4, 2015
Just like healthy eating habits, healthy habits for our money require patience, persistence and, every now and again, a little forgiveness.
Here are a few healthy money habits you might want to start putting into place today.
1. Automate your savings
Any time we can do something easy to help us achieve our financial goals, we’re all for it. Creating a new savings account and setting up automatic contribution from each paycheck means you’ll never have to remember to do it yourself. Plus, you won’t even notice that the money is missing because you never even saw it in your checking account to begin with. The same can be said of retirement accounts. What’s better is that with the right savings account option, your automated savings will generate some extra cash from interest without you even lifting a finger. Check out this piece for the best online savings account options in 2015.
2. Set up alerts
Identity theft and credit card fraud are no joke, and if there was something you could do to help catch it early, you’d be all for that, right? Setting up transaction alerts on your credit cards and bank accounts will help alert you to fraud immediately so you can get it sorted as soon as possible. If you’d like to take it even further, a credit freeze can help stop new, fraudulent accounts from being opened using your information (check out more about credit freezes here), and set a reminder in your calendar to request one free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus at four month intervals throughout the year to check for any weird-looking transactions.
3. Pay off your credit card weekly instead of monthly
Especially if you’re trying to build your credit score, this little trick can really help. Paying your credit card off each week gives you a more accurate reflection of the money available in your checking account throughout the month, and it helps keep your utilization low. Leaving just one charge on your card for when the statement cycles can help you get a single-digit utilization, which helps keep your credit score high.
4. Stop using your debit card
Not only do credit cards provide more protection against fraud (find out more about that here) and help you build up your credit score (assuming you pay your bill on time each month), but not using a credit card for the majority of your purchases could mean leaving a lot of money on the table in terms of additional rewards. Check out this piece for some of the best cash back rewards in multiple categories, and use this tool to compare credit card offers for your particular needs.
5. Prepare for the future
Especially if you have people dependent on you and your income — a spouse, children, or parents who co-signed your student loans, for example — consider whether or not you’ll be leaving them with the resources they need should something happen to you. A good term life insurance policy can be cheap, will provide you (and your loved ones) with a sense of comfort and relief, and you’ll probably even get a free medical exam as part of the application process. Read this to find out more about why it’s important to get life insurance when you have a co-signed loan.