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Building strong personal finance habits plays a critical role in helping you achieve financial independence. Though not always easy to master, these tips can help you understand how to balance your income, expenses, and savings. 


Create a Financial Calendar

A financial calendar will help you keep track of your recurring financial responsibilities. Knowing when certain major expenses may be due can help you budget for them and set money aside in the preceding months. Planning to pay certain bills at different times in the month helps you with your cash flow as well. Be sure to place a note on your calendar to check your credit report once per quarter to be sure no unusual activity has taken place. Balance your checkbook every month.


Set Specific Financial Goals

Are you planning a major purchase such as a home, car, vacation or perhaps saving for college expenses? Set funds aside regularly to help you achieve your goals. Consider direct payroll deposits into accounts you set up for specific purposes. Automating your savings program will make it easier and more likely to be achieved.


Pay Yourself First

If you have a company-sponsored retirement plan, a payroll deduction into this account is a great first step toward building retirement savings. Be sure to maximize any company match. Start your retirement planning as early as possible. It has been shown that a key factor in hitting your retirement goals is the length of time you have to allow your assets to grow. Even a small amount contributed regularly and invested properly can build a significant nest egg given enough time. Consult with a Financial Advisor if you need help in allocating your retirement portfolio. 


Be Careful with Credit Cards

It is important to have a credit card for emergency use and to help establish a good credit record. Shop around to find a card with no annual fee and the lowest interest rate possible. Get into the habit of paying off your balance each month to avoid the interest charges. If you cannot pay the entire balance, plan to do so as soon as you can as those interest charges can add up quickly. Resist the temptation to use the card to make purchases that are beyond your means. Last, if your card company offers you a larger credit limit, do not accept the offer if you feel as though that larger limit may allow you to overspend. 


Evaluate Your Expenses

Carefully analyze your debit card purchases. Are there certain daily expenses like that $5.00 cup of coffee that you can eliminate? How often do you dine out? Those small routine costs add up quickly and hinder your attempts to save for more important purposes. Can you get a better deal for your phone or internet coverage? Do you have monthly subscription payments for services that you do not use? Be a smart consumer and eliminate needless costs. 


Explore Financial Technology

The expansion of financial technology (fintech) options can help you simplify the management of your finances. There are a variety of online tools available at little to no cost which allows you to track and manage your expenses. Through applications such as Acorns, purchases you make with your card are rounded up to the nearest dollar with the extra amount directed to an investment account. Remember that technology usage has its risks. Be sure you are visiting verified and trusted sites. Protecting your financial information with strong passwords is also important. There is a lot of information available to you online. Do your homework and select the tools that work best for you.  


Buy Supplies in Bulk

There is money to be saved by buying in larger quantities. Wholesalers like Costco offer great deals on larger quantities and their product lines are expanding regularly. In addition to getting discounted rates, you also save time and gas by making fewer trips to your local grocery or supermarket.


Developing good financial habits can help you build savings, avoid unnecessary debt and be aware of your expenditures. Start today with an honest assessment of your income, expenses, and savings. There are numerous online tools you can use to help you simplify your planning. Be smart and plan today for a strong financial future.


Securities and Investment Advisory Services offered through Essex Financial Services, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor, Member FINRA, SIPC.  A subsidiary of Essex Savings Bank. The securities and insurance products offered through Essex Financial Services, Inc. are not a deposit of, or other obligation of, or guaranteed by any bank, or an affiliate of any bank, are not insured by the FDIC or any other agency of the United States, the Bank or an affiliate of the bank and involve investment risk, including the possibility of a loss of the principal amount invested.