5 Ways to Be Responsible with Money

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moneyI went to the grocery store yesterday and was shocked. How could five bags of stuff possibly cost that much? I freaked. I got sweaty, and my heartbeat was fast and heavy. The line was long, so I couldn't put things back without looking ridiculous. Besides, I needed baby food, meat and something to feed the cat.

I need to be more careful with my money. I am hoping to save more this year if at all humanly possible.

Since saving money is one of the most popular New Year's Resolutions, I thought I'd share these tips I just received from Citi. Here are 5 ways to be more responsible with our money.

Tips are from Dara Duguay, Director of Citi’s Office of Financial Education:

  1. Don’t treat money as taboo. Whether managing finances yourself or with a spouse/partner, avoiding money issues in the hopes that they will just go away or until you have a financial crisis only guarantees stress and arguments. Set aside time every month--or schedule regular monthly “money meetings” with your partner--to review the bills, money goals, investment portfolio, college savings and any other money topic that is relevant. This monthly review could coincide with bill paying or when your bank statement arrives.
  2. Create an emergency fund. Emergency savings are, in effect, a form of insurance. It will protect you from life’s curve balls. Open a savings account and don’t stop contributing until you have saved enough to cover at least three months of monthly expenses. If you can save six months worth, even better. This will prevent you from having to take cash advances, which while helpful in emergencies, come with fees and interest rate charges that are usually higher than your credit card purchases.
  3. Pay more than the minimum on your credit cards whenever you can.  Even a small amount more than the minimum can make a big difference in the time it takes to pay off your balance. Also, be sure to make your monthly payments on time, every time. Even one late or missed payment can be recorded in your credit report and affect your credit history. 
  4. Contribute the maximum to a retirement savings plan. Approximately 50 percent of Americans who have the opportunity to contribute to a company retirement plan, choose not to. In many cases, contributions are matched by the company. This is free money that is being thrown away by opting out. Remember that your contributions will reduce your taxable income and will only be taxed when you start to withdraw them at retirement age. 
  5. Get adequate insurance protection. There is nothing like an emergency to wipe out your savings or add to your debt level. Protect yourself financially from as many emergencies as possible by ensuring adequate insurance for health, life, auto and home. Confronting these issues can be difficult since no one likes to think about possible illness or death, but you have to be realistic.

I'm still reeling from the price of milk and cat food and a few chicken breasts earlier today. I'm definitely checking out the private group Coupon and Bargain Loving Mama's. Do you get sticker shock at the grocery store, too?

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