INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - The Thanksgiving holiday is not just a time to be thankful--it's also a time to make sure your finances aren't all gobbled up by poor financial planning.
The good news: there are several ways to prevent your nest egg from becoming a real turkey.
"The average consumer carries $6,000 in credit card debt. That can take months, if not years, to overcome. The first tip is to review and re-balance your budget to make sure you are still in line with meeting various goals you may have set," said consumer saving expert Andrea Woroch.
Sometimes there are big changes in your life that you did not plan for in advance. Getting married, buying or home or purchasing a car can set you back. If those things happen or even if you are dealing with day-to-day expenses, there are ways to track everything. Tracking what you spend is key because every little bit adds up and most people don't know exactly where all their money goes.
"To make it easier, there are a variety of apps to help your keep track of your finances, such as Mint. The app links all your accounts in one place. This will give you a snapshot of how you are spending so it will allow you to pinpoint areas where you are wasting money and where you need to rein in," said Woroch.
Don't forget about cutting back on non-essentials. There are so many things we spend money on but often don't include in our budgets. This could be like a subscription service, a beauty sample box delivery or maybe that gym membership you really aren't using. Whatever it is, think about cancelling it. If you really miss it, you can always sign back up. Some places, such as gyms, even allow you to freeze monthly fees if you're not using them. You can also try flexing your muscles with an idea that most people don't even attempt: negotiating.
"It's a simple idea that most people don't do. For example, you can call your cable provider, your internet provider, and see if there's a new promotion that you qualify for. And if you need help, there are sights like billcutterz that actually do the work for you, so it takes the hassle out of negotiating your bills," said Woroch.
Negotiating can work because companies don't want to lose you as a customer.
Another big-money item you should always look at is your credit cards. Consolidation if you have several cards is key! Many companies offer a no-interest debt transfer, with zero percent interest for a specified time period.
"This can help you save money because you won't have to worry about those increasing interest fees that you're paying every month. Some people are only paying the minimum balance on their credit cards. They don't realize often times it is just covering the interest fees and you are hardly chipping away at your actual debt," said Woroch.
Just make sure you pay off that balance in full before any promotional period is up, otherwise retroactive interest could apply.
Another idea is keep track of who owes you money. If they do, ask them to pay it back. Sometimes that's an uncomfortable thing to do, but there are apps for that, such as Zelle.
"This way you can just send a request and then money can be transferred from one bank account to another. In the U.S. the transaction typically takes just minutes as long as both people are enrolled. So again, it makes it less awkward and it's a fast, easy and a safe way to send money between people," said Woroch.
It can also pay people like babysitters instead of having to come up with cash or write a check.