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Getting your personal finances in order and keeping them that way is an important skill – perhaps a more important one now than ever. Between the high-powered financial options anyone can take advantage of and the time-saving shortcuts anyone can abuse, it is all too easy to lose control of your money. Here are some basic tips about hanging on to your personal financial reins.

Have a plan for dealing with collection agencies and follow it. Do not engage in a war of words with a collection agent. Simply ask them to send you written information regarding your bill and you will research it and get back to them. Research the statue of limitations in your state for collections. You may be getting pushed to pay something you are no longer liable for.

Live below your means. Most Americans live paycheck to paycheck. This happens, because we are spending as much as we are earning or in some cases, more. You can break this cycle by leaving yourself a lot of room in your monthly budget. If you only need a smaller percentage of your income to pay your living expenses, there will be more left over to save or to pay for unexpected things that come up.

You may not know that after a certain period of time, debts expire. Find out when your debts will become obsolete and refuse to pay back anyone who is trying to get money for an expired debt.

Keeping track of your finances is a vital part of knowing where you currently stand. Apply for paperless statements, which will allow you to view all of your debits, credits and miscellaneous transactions online. This is very convenient and can allow you to maximize the organization of all of your accounts.

Exercise

Exercise caution when you estimate what sort of mortgage payments you can afford. A mortgage is a very long-term financial proposition. Meeting your payment obligations will rely on how much money you will earn over a number of years. Keep in mind the possibility that your income may stay constant or even fall in the future, when you consider mortgage payments.

You should balance your portfolio once a year. Being astute and re-balancing your portfolio will help your existing investments in sync with your financial goals and risk tolerance. By taking time to do a regular analysis, you can also take advantage of the “sell high, buy low” mentality while you take stock of your investments.

Find a financial buddy to team up with to help pay down your debt. Just like having a buddy to exercise with, having a financial buddy can keep you motivated on being financially prudent. Keep track of your progress together and make yourself accountable to your buddy, and likewise, help keep your buddy headed in the right direction.

Gaining control of your finances is not just economically prudent. It can be a source of great personal satisfaction and even pride. Using methods like those outlined above, you can keep a tight leash on your personal finances and bring your money to heel. Personal finance is all about making your money behave the way you want it to.

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