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Control your spending

Posted March 19, 2014 in Advice Column, Downtown

Becoming more organized and less stressed is a challenging goal for most of us.  I often wonder if New Yorkers think our lives in “small-town Iowa” are stress-free, but I know mine isn’t.

In my financial life, I’ve learned to tap in to a variety of tools that aid me in staying organized and thereby less stressed. Not only does it provide a feeling of accomplishment to have all of my financial plates spinning, but it can also mean the difference between financial success and failure.

• Get more organized. Use online banking and other online services to track your spending, update your budget and keep an eye out for any possible fraudulent transactions. Fraud can not only impact your credit score, but it’s also a major inconvenience.

Sign up to use account consolidation software so you can manage all your account relationships on one screen.

• Reduce stress. Consider opening “secondary savings accounts.” When you’re saving for something specific, it’s wise to keep those funds completely separate from the rest of your money. Name the account (such as “vacation account”) to help you stay focused, set up automatic transfers so you’re not tempted to spend the money, and use online banking to track your progress.

Take advantage of online bill pay services to schedule payments in advance, but maintain control of the day funds are withdrawn. Simply set it and forget it. No more stamps, and no more beating the mailman to the mailbox.

• Keep spending under control. Create and live within a budget. Creating a tangible budget — where you list your income and expenses — makes it a lot easier to track where your money is going each month. And chances are, once you get everything written down, you’re going to be surprised by how much you spend in at least one area.

Brown bag it twice a week. If you dine out for lunch every day or grab a latte on the way to work, consider cutting back to two times a week and brown bagging it or bringing coffee from home.  Cutting out a $7 lunch and $4 latte twice per week will save you more than $1,100 per year.

Information  provided by Debbie White, CEO of Village Credit Union, 601 E. Court Ave., 243-4400,

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