Jean Chatzky, NBC’s Financial Editor for the Today Show, is an expert on smart spending. Here are her tips for keeping your spending in check and your wallet happy.
If you’re saving 5% or more, you’re happier. Ideally, you should be saving about 10% when you’re starting out, and 15% if you’re more established. If that sounds like too much for you, just increase what you’re currently doing by 2%. Jean says, “Then the next time you get a raise, or when that 2% starts to feel easy, increase again by 2%. Eventually you’ll get to where you need to be.”
Pay your bills as they come in. Don’t put them in a pile and pay them once or twice a month. “If you pay a bill when it comes in, you’ll adjust your spending for the rest of the month,” Jean advises. If you let the bills sit around, you might get halfway into the month before realizing you’ve gone over-budget.
Get familiar with your credit score. Your credit score affects all of your financial endeavors, so it’s important to have a good one: 720 and above is the goal. You can find out yours for free by visiting savvymoney.com. If you don’t like what you see, start spending less to boost your score. Jean says, “Nothing happens overnight. If you pay your bills on time and spend less of the credit you have available, your score will go up.”
Set up a time every week to go over finances. If you have a spouse or partner, have a meeting once a week to ensure that everyone is on the same page. You will feel good when all the guesswork is taken out of your finances and you’re confident that you’re ahead of the game.
Information is power when it comes to money. There are tons of resources available online, like calculators to help you figure out how much to set aside for retirement, how much you should be saving, etc. One of these resources is Jean’s weekly newsletter.
For more information, visit Jean’s website.