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    11 Positive Money Habits That β€” Not To Be Dramatic β€” Might Be Total Game Changers For Your Finances

    With a little practice, your money goals could be right around the corner.

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    Good habits are like baby steps for getting where we want to be. Sure, we may lose our balance, stumble, and fall (and possibly cry) along the way, but one thing's certain: we're making progress! And when it comes to our finances, good habits can seriously propel us (and our bank accounts) forward.

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    Here are some positive money habits that'll help get you on your way toward reaching your goals.

    Also a reminder: Any progress β€” even the smallest of milestones β€” is worth celebrating. It takes a lot of courage to make a change, after all. So when you start seeing progress, don't forget to pat yourself on the back for how far you've come!

    1. Set a specific goal that's important to you.

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    Goals and habits pretty much go hand-in-hand β€” name a more iconic dynamic duo; I'll wait. Creating goals can actually help you pinpoint the types of habits you need to develop to achieve what you want. Maybe saving up to buy a house in three years is an important goal for you. Putting aside a certain amount of money each month could be a habit that puts you on your way.

    2. Create a budget so you're aware of the money coming in and the money going out.

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    When you know how much you make versus how much you spend, you have the power to "assign" a job to every dollar you make. This means you're in control of how much you can spend on your favorite restaurant, the amount you save, and even how many new ~wonderful smelling~ candles you can buy this month.

    Also, get into the habit of budgeting before you spend. Don't work in purchases you already made so you can pretend you budgeted for those items (been there, done that!). The numbers might look scary at times. But looking at your budget with honest eyes can help you get real about where you need to cut back. This way, you can afford more in other areas where it matters to you the most.

    3. While it can be suuuper tempting, avoid using a credit card for every single purchase β€” especially if you're unable to pay the bill in full each month.

    Model using a credit card to purchase coffee
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    Credit cards are uber convenient (no more standing at the cash register struggling to stuff dollar bills back into your wallet while an impatient line forms behind you!). In some situations, avoiding credit card purchases may be almost impossible. But if your circumstances allow it, pick and choose what you swipe your card for.

    Of course, we've all dreamt of the amazing, *free* future plane tickets we can book using credit card points. But points may not always be worth the interest charges on your bill if you don't pay the card in full each month. Those interest charges will only make paying off debt seem more and more out of reach.

    BTW, some of our readers suggested practical, tried-and-true ways to pay down credit card debt!

    4. Keep your credit use low to improve your credit score β€” especially since these scores can help you get approved for a loan.

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    One benefit of not putting everything on a credit card = your credit utilization gets lower as you make payments. Credit utilization is pretty much a business-y way of saying "the amount of available credit you have to spend versus how much of that money you use." Maintaining a low utilization means you only borrow a small amount of the credit available to you β€” and boy, does that work wonders for your credit score!

    FYI, credit utilization is just one of several factors that affect your credit score. It can take longer than expected to improve a low score β€” but it doesn't always have to. If your credit score isn't where you want it to be, Experian Boost might help you instantly bump it up by adding your regular bill payments to your Experian credit report. And did I mention you can do this for *free*? Seeing the instant score increase can be super motivational when it comes to whipping your finances into shape.

    5. Automate your bill payments so you never miss a due date.

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    Nobody wants to miss bill payments. Life happens, time flies, and before you know it, the due date is in your rearview mirror. Setting up autopay for bills ensures they get paid in a timely manner β€” and you won't incur the wrath of late fees for missing a payment. You can schedule payments to leave your account the day after you receive each paycheck.

    6. And do the same for your savings account β€” automatically transfer money from each paycheck straight to your savings.

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    "Out of sight, out of mind" is the idea here! When your paycheck hits your account, you might intend to transfer some of it to your savings. But you get caught up in paying for bills, groceries, and gifts for loved ones (and for yourself). Then, you end up not being able to save anything at all.

    When a specified amount automatically leaves each paycheck, you don't see it, so you won't even consider touching it. It's already all safe and sound in your savings account, making you wealthier. This is what those financial experts you read about call "paying yourself first" β€” and it's such a game changer. Now you can pay for necessities and spend on wants without worrying about how much room you have for saving.

    For even more ways to increase your savings, check out these small but effective money-saving tips.

    7. Save or invest bonuses, gift money, and any "unplanned" income.

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    Almost nothing compares to the all-encompassing joy of getting money on your birthday. And, when you see a little extra cash tacked onto your paycheck, it can be sooo tempting to spend it on that new TV or gaming system you wanted. This unplanned income β€” aka "found" money β€” can actually go a long way toward your savings goals. In fact, the best way to use found money is to treat it like it's invisible!

    You didn't intend on having it, which means you didn't budget for it anyway. Invest it or stash it straight into your savings.

    8. Avoid spending on repeat purchases by simply checking to see if you already have the item at home.

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    How many times have you bought something you already own just because you didn't think you'd be able to find it amongst your possessions? Then, lo and behold, you find it with little to no effort β€” turns out, you didn't have to spend money on a replacement! Trust me, I know the feeling all too well.

    Get in the habit of doing a sweep of your home to see if you can locate the item you need before you decide to purchase a new one. You'd be surprised by how often you end up finding it, thus saving yourself some cash.

    9. Shift toward thinking about long-term benefits β€” not just short-term pleasure.

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    Get in the habit of thinking about your money in the long run. It's often easier to only think six months ahead, especially when we're younger. A staycation in the city or our next birthday celebration feels much closer in time. But planning for the bigger picture can seriously pay off β€” especially if it's, like, 40 years away.

    One way to do this is by putting away small amounts of money each month for retirement (we have a handy post that answers the most common questions about 401(k) plans). Another tip: Choose investments that you think will thrive over the course of several years instead of just the next two months.

    That's not to say that you can't enjoy that staycation or avidly plan for your birthday. Just do so in a way that still accommodates your long-term goals.

    10. Before you take on more debt, ask yourself if there's another option.

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    We've honestly grown so accustomed to being surrounded by debt β€” our family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers all have it, so what's the big whoop if we do too? Applying for a new credit card now feels almost as normal as drinking water. And that just means having yet another obligation to put money toward each month.

    If you need extra money, explore other options first. Ask your family members if they could lend you some. Apply to external scholarships before you decide that student loans are the only way to finance your education. Or, see if you can take on a side gig to make extra money (while still getting everything done at your main job and considering your well-being, of course!).

    11. Lastly, stay open-minded when it comes to your finances β€” don't automatically turn up your nose at every new management strategy.

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    Money management can be tricky! And, there is no one *perfect* way to save, spend, and pay off debt. It can be easy to stick to methods that have served you in the past but get less effective as the years go on. Keep an open mind when it comes to learning from others' experiences and hearing new advice. Not everything will resonate with you β€” and that's okay. But giving some new strategies your best effort could end up working out for you!

    If this sounds like music to your ears (and bank account), check out more of our personal finance posts.

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