| June 12, 2012

Is it time to update your finances?

During the beginning of the year, a lot of consumers channeled all of their energy into improving their finances. Many made goals to eliminate their credit card debt, while others focused on saving more money. However, as the months slipped by, some may have tapered off in their financial aims. Mid-year is a good time for individuals to reassess their finances and make small changes that can lead to greater savings. There are several areas consumers can tackle.

One of the first tasks an individual should take on is examining their current accounts. This includes utilities, cell phone bills, credit cards and loans. Too few people make the effort to negotiate their interest rates and ask about better terms, according to the New York Times. Credit card issuers, in particular, want to keep their customers happy to retain their business, and many are willing to lower rates if consumers ask and have accounts that are in good standing. When it comes to student loan and mortgage lenders, they may not be in a position to lower rates automatically based on a consumer’s payment behavior. However, many lenders will lower rates if customers agree to let lenders automatically deduct payments from their checking account.

When it comes to utilities, it may also be time for individuals to shop around for more affordable providers. In many cases, customers have been with the same electricity or cable company for years, and have not bothered to check with other local providers. Some may offer more affordable packages with better amenities.

After consumers have done all they can to get the most out of their accounts, they can examine their budgets. It’s easy to get in a routine of following the same budget from month-to-month. However, as a household’s finances change, its budget should change as well. For example, as individuals pay off more of their credit card debt and free up more income, it’s important to determine where the additional funds will be allocated. The summer months are also a good time to reassess a budget in preparation for vacations and other seasonal events.

Lastly, mid-year is a good time to determine how close individuals are to accomplishing their annual goals. They may find that they are closer than they expected and can divert their spending to other areas. In other instances, it may be necessary for adults to overhaul their budget and make lifestyle changes in order to reach their year-end goals.

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