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Top Ten Tips for Handling Household Finances

written by: Stephanie Mojica•edited by: Donna Cosmato•updated: 6/28/2011

Managing finances doesn't have to be scary. You can apply some of these top 10 tips for handling household finances to your life today.

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    You may be throwing away money and not even know it. By taking charge and managing finances, you and your family just might learn you have even more disposable income than you once thought.

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    #1: Know everything you spend.

    It's too easy to become vague about money; avoid this with the first tip toward managing your household finances. You may choose to track your money with pencil and paper, or implement use of a financial tracking software program. Regardless of your choice, be sure you know exactly what you're spending each day, week, and month.

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    #2: Never pay for a checking account.

    If you're paying monthly fees for a checking account, you're wasting money. Too many banks offer free checking accounts these days to justify spending a dime on "service charges" any longer. If your bank or credit union won't waive your monthly service fees, then fire them. You can find just a few possibilities in the previous Bright Hub article "Compare Online Checking Accounts."

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    #3: Never pay any bill late.

    Paying bills late can add unnecessary fees to your family's budget. If you're having difficulty remembering the dates bills are due, you can either use a wall calendar to write those dates down or setup e-mail reminders.

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    #4: Save at least a few dollars every paycheck.

    Some people don't save money because they feel they're not saving "enough." While financial experts like David Bach recommend saving at least 10 percent of each paycheck, remember that every family has to start somewhere. Putting aside even a few dollars for a "rainy day" can benefit your entire household in the event of the unexpected.

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    #5: Create and use a spending plan.

    The days of a "budget" are over; a spending plan allows you to choose where you and your family spend your hard-earned money. Learn more about creating a spending plan that helps ensure your family's fun and financial freedom by checking out the Bright Hub article "What is a Personal Spending Plan and How Do I Begin One?"

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    #6: Stop relying on credit to pay basic expenses.

    That $10 pizza today could end up costing your hundreds in the years to come. If at all possible, don't use credit to pay basic living expenses. High interest rates could snowball even a seemingly small debt and jeopardize your future financial freedom.

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    #7: Buy generic whenever possible.

    Some food and drinks taste better with a brand-name behind them, but most don't. When possible, save money by buying generic. This is especially helpful when it comes to spices, bottled water, toilet paper, and detergent. Put the money you save toward a better purchase, or into your household's savings account.

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    #8: Brown bag more.

    "Brown bag" lunches may sound boring, but are actually healthier and much cheaper for you and your family. Your household budget may shrink considerably if you start packing lunches for those going to work and school. If you can't do that every day, remember that even small steps can go a long way toward managing your family's money. So start small by "brown bagging" it even one or two days a week.

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    #9: Check your cable bill.

    If you need to cut down expenses, check your cable bill. You may have unused services that you can cancel. After all, most busy families usually don't get to enjoy a lot of time watching those premium movie channels. If you are using the cable services to which you subscribe, consider calling that company and asking for any "specials" they might be running. This can help you reduce this sometimes astronomical household expense.

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    #10: Stay committed.

    Handling household finances efficiently requires a continued commitment. You don't have to become the new money sheriff of the house, but staying vigilant will ensure your family spends less money and enjoys a balanced life a lot more.