Pop Quiz: Are You Cheating Yourself?
4. Do you pay off your credit card balance every month? Credit cards charge incredibly high interest rates. While this is good for the credit card companies, it is a terrible drain on your finances. By paying off your credit card bill in full each month, you get certain advantages without any of the cost.
5. Do you max out your 401(k) match? If your company matches funds on contributions you make to your 401(k) plan, it's free money with a return far higher than you are likely to find anywhere else. You should make every effort to contribute the maximum amount the company will match.
6. Do you contribute the maximum amount to your IRA each year? The IRS offers a nice tax break for those who invest in an IRA -- either a tax break the year you contribute (standard IRA) or no taxes on the interest earned when you withdraw the money (Roth IRA). Either way, it's a tax perk that you should take full advantage of.
7. Do you direct deposit your paycheck and pay yourself first? If you try to save money after paying for all your other obligations, there often won't be enough money at the end of the month to save anything. If you pay yourself first, however, it's much more likely that you will make your budget work and have the savings at the end of the month. Doing that through direct deposit is one of the easiest ways to accomplish it. Pay yourself first to make sure that you put aside the savings you need -- in your 401(k), your emergency fund or personal savings.8. Do you place your savings in a high-interest online banking account? Most banking accounts pay very little in interest and in the past there was often little you could do about it. Internet banking has changed all that. You can earn more than 5% on your savings rather than the 1% your bank is likely paying you now.
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