Hear me out on this: Join the library.
Sure, you already know the obvious thing about libraries: free books! But if you are sincerely interested in sneaky ways to positively impact your budget, it is definitely time to revisit your local public library and see what's new.
At the Chattanooga Public Library, for instance, your card also gets you audio books, eBooks (Kindle?), online courses from Treehouse, kids activities, homework help, access to 3D printer technology...
That's a lot of stuff for free that would cost a lot elsewhere. Pretty sneaky, right?
Looking for Tips #1 and #2?
Talk about being sneaky...tip #2 takes what you are already doing and makes it budget positive: switch your credit card use* to a cash back rewards card**. When the cash rebate comes in the mail, stick it in the bank! This is as "set it and forget it" as it gets for household financial management ideas.
*Caveats always apply, right? Credit cards can be a good thing when used to simplify and expedite purchasing, consolidating records, getting buyer protection / warranties, etc. Credit cards are not a good thing when you carry a balance and start paying interest.
**Not all cash back reward cards are created equally. In my own use, the Costco member American Express has been great - no limits on reward accrual, "bonus" accrual rates on things like gas, travel, and groceries, and generally a base rate of 1% back on everything else. I also prefer cash back to "points" for a variety of reasons, but primarily because points encourage further consumption and cash can easily apply to savings.
Did you miss tip #1? Find it here.
You don't want to budget - no one does! But you recognize that your household finances are a bit out of control. What to do?! Be sneaky.
Sneak budget tip #1 -- There are only two real spending categories: Needs & Wants. If you can be honest with yourself about which is which before you spend your money, things get easier in a hurry.
Whether you subscribe to Maslow's hierarchy of needs or have your own rules, a 5 second check-in on Needs vs Wants can be a powerful force in your [sneaky] budget.
Tip #2 coming soon!
David R Wattenbarger, president of DRW Financial
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