Per­sonal Fi­nances

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As more Amer­i­cans make strides to­wards re­spon­si­ble spend­ing and debt man­age­ment, there are still ways to im­prove the con­trol of fam­ily fi­nances. Ac­cord­ing to a sur­vey re­cently con­ducted by Bank of Amer­ica, less than half of card­hold­ers al­ways pay their en­tire credit card bal­ance. With more than half of in­di­vid­u­als car­ry­ing credit card debt, Ja­son Gaughan, card prod­ucts ex­ec­u­tive for Bank of Amer­ica, said to think about per­sonal spend­ing be­fore tak­ing on a credit card. “Credit cards pro­vide con­sumers an ef­fi­cient and pro­tected way to make pur­chases,” said Gaughan. “They are more con­ve­nient than cash and they are in­cred­i­bly use­ful in an emer­gency. The key to suc­cess­fully manag­ing your credit card ac­count is to un­der­stand your bud­get and stick to a plan that works for you when bor­row­ing. You want a card with a re­wards pro­gram that fits your lifestyle and how you man­age your fi­nances. If you typ­i­cally carry a bal­ance, look for a card that has low in­ter­est and re­in­forces good pay­ment prac­tices.” Along with these prac­tices, there are other ways to pro­mote good spend­ing and per­sonal fi­nance habits, such as:

Limit Num­ber of Credit Cards Lim­it­ing the num­ber of cards you own can help limit your spend­ing and in­crease the like­li­hood you can pay above the min­i­mum bal­ance. Be­fore you start cut­ting up your plas­tic, re­mem­ber hav­ing more than one credit card can have mer­its. One idea is to have three cards: one in a safe place at home for emer­gen­cies and two with you at all times.

Reap the Re­wards Use the re­wards pro­grams avail­able to credit card hold­ers to cash in on things your fam­ily re­ally needs. Some cards, such as the BankAmeri­card Cash Re­wards credit card, let you earn more cash back where you spend the most money, like gas sta­tions and gro­cery stores. The BankAmeri­card Bet­ter Bal­ance Re­wards credit card helps cus­tomers re­spon­si­bly man­age their credit card bal­ance. What­ever re­wards you are seek­ing, there is likely to be a card suit­able for you.

Eval­u­ate All Debts Many carry debts be­yond credit cards, in­clud­ing stu­dent loans, car pay­ments and mort­gages. Eval­u­ate your debts and de­cide which ones have the high­est in­ter­est rates. Mak­ing it a pri­or­ity to pay down these debts first will save you more money in the long run.

Cre­ate a Bud­get It’s never too soon to put your­self in con­trol of your money and stop let­ting it con­trol you. A bud­get will give you fi­nan­cial peace of mind and it can help you stretch the in­come you have. Cal­cu­late your in­come and ex­penses and set your monthly bud­get. Though you may not be on-point ev­ery month, the sim­ple act of track­ing your spend­ing will be a huge step for­ward in your quest to­wards re­spon­si­ble spend­ing.

FAM­ILY FEA­TURES

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