Dealing with money can be difficult. However, if you’re smart about your finances, life in general becomes a little easier. There are many stupid things we all do with our money each day. However, if you’re smart about your money overall, you’re more likely to be able to take a vacation or go on a shopping spree every once in a while.

1. Refinance Home and/or Auto Loans

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Image via Flickr by David Wright

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Let’s be honest, you may not have the best interest rate available. When you purchased your home, you probably went with whoever your real estate agent suggested. Even if you shopped around and got the best rate at the time, it’s still a good idea to shop around again. Interest rates are low for homebuyers and those refinancing. Take a look, and if you find that you can get a lower interest rate, go for it. While the paperwork is a hassle, the money saved can equal several hundred dollars a month.

The same goes for auto loans. If you got a high interest rate when you purchased your car, call around to other banks and see what kind of interest they’re offering. You may be surprised how much you can save on your car loan.

2. Schedule a Splurge

No one wants to live on the basics all the time. You pay your bills, you go to work each day, and you just want to have a little fun. Even if you’re on a tight budget, you can find a way to splurge every once in a while without completely breaking the bank. Save $10 a week, until you have enough to do what you’d like. While saving the money bit by bit may take longer than just doing it, it will leave you in a better financial position when you’re done.

3. Invest in Annuities

One of the smartest things you can do with your money is invest it. Invested money is working for you, helping you create a better financial future. Because of this, it’s important that you have a great investment portfolio created. Working with a financial advisor is a great way to ensure you have a good portfolio. From annuities to bonds and more, a diverse investment portfolio is a smart way to use your money. Check out deferred annuity calculators and crunch some numbers to see what the best route is for you and your family.

4. Don’t Buy if You Can’t Pay Cash

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Image via Flickr by Images Money

While you may hear some people say that you should never use your credit cards, or that you shouldn’t have credit cards at all, this isn’t necessarily the case. However, you need to be careful about how you spend your money. Don’t use a card or a credit line on something that you simply can’t afford. This doesn’t include purchases such as a house or car. However, if you’re considering purchasing a new television, buy something that you could pay for with cash or debit. If you have the money, go ahead and use your credit card, then pay off the balance in a timely manner.

5. Pay Extra on Your Mortgage

Do you have a 30 year mortgage? That’s a long time to be paying on a loan. And the interest rates make it so that you’re paying significantly more than the purchase price. However, every little bit you can pay extra on the loan not only lowers the amount of time that you’ll have the mortgage, but also decreases the extra money you’ll be paying out during the life of the loan. The more you can pay toward the principle of the balance, the better your financial situation will be in the long run.

6. Contribute to Charities

When you contribute to charities, you’re helping others in need. However, you’ll also get a tax break on your charitable contributions, so in many ways you’re helping yourself as well. No matter how much or how little you have to share, remember that your contribution is always needed and appreciated.

7. Put it in Savings

Saving money is important for your future. The suggested minimum that you should save is enough to cover at least three months of expenses. While this may seem like an impossible task, it’s crucial. You never know what will happen in the future, and the loss of a job, an injury or illness, or other devastating event can financially ruin someone who hasn’t planned ahead. Put whatever extra you can into savings each month. One great option is to set up an automatic payment through your bank from your checking account to savings.

There are a number of smart things you can do with your money. Make sure you’re planning for the future, but also having fun today.