Raise your hand if you know you could be doing something to save a nice bit of cash each week but for some reason or another you just don’t. Maybe you have a hard time getting your act together to pack a lunch each week or somehow you never find the time to look for a cheaper auto insurance plan. Don’t be embarrassed if this is true for you, as almost everyone I know has these little, seemingly easy things that somehow just don’t wind up happening. If you’d like to conquer one of these items on your list, try my three step method for making a change in your habits.
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With interest rates rising and housing supply limited for the time being, many people are rushing to buy a home early this season. If you are one of these people, and unless you have cash ready to pay in full, then know that it’s especially important this time around to get pre-approved before you begin hunting for that dream home. With a competitive seller’s market, getting that proof gives you to a leg up because the seller knows you’re “good for it,” so to speak.

But, even before the pre-approval process, there are a few things to understand and get in order. Here are some steps that will ensure you get the home loan that’s right for you.
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Just because February is almost here doesn’t mean you should already be neglecting to improve your finances. In fact, no matter your resolutions (or if you’ve already abandoned them), it’s always a good idea to work on your finances.

If you’re looking for ways to tweak your budget to better effect this year, then here are some strategies you can follow to spend less and save more:

1. Factor in Infrequent Expenses

One of the biggest pitfalls of budgeting is forgetting about infrequent expenses. I have some expenses that are only paid quarterly, or perhaps once a year. It’s easy to forget to include them in the budget, especially if I come up with the budget during a month when I’m not making the payment. The fix is easy though.

As you tweak your budget this year, spend the extra bit of time to look ahead for infrequent expenses and include them. I like to break mine down into monthly costs so that they are accounted for. I also ensure that the money is already there when they are withdrawn from my account.
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Although it doesn’t top the list of things we hope to do this year, 16 percent of us have placed “finding a new job” on our 2017 resolutions list. One of the driving factors is that we’re recognizing opportunities for better pay in a more robust job market (statistics are predicting a high demand for experienced mid to senior-level workers). While your first agenda is, of course, to land a new job with better pay and benefits, what you do after you’ve been hired could make or break its potential to change your financial outlook.

Once you’ve achieved that new job, here are four financial steps you’ll want to take as soon as possible.

#1: Update your financial tracking

Obviously, a loss of income has us rushing to adjust our budget faster than when we gain income, but it’s still important to track any changes. Plugging those numbers in will show you exactly how far ahead you are once taxes and other changes are figured in. Having a specific rather than a general idea of how much you’re adding to your bottom line ensures getting the most financial advantages out of your raise. It also decreases the chance of your extra income getting absorbed into discretionary spending without realizing it (some call it lifestyle inflation).
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Every year, the USDA updates the average cost of raising a child from birth to age 18. The latest figure is in line with recent years that you are likely to spend close to a quarter million dollars raising a child.

Breaking down the latest average and the figure is actually $14,000 per year. However, you can use the calculator provided by the USDA to get an idea of how your situation might impact what you are likely to spend. In my case, the calculator says that the number is a little more than $23,000 a year.

Luckily, I don’t spend $23,000 a year on my 14-year old son. How do I do it?

Can You Get Away with Spending Less?

In most cases, it’s probably possible to get away with spending less on your children than the government estimates.

Some of the ways you can spend less focus on food and clothing costs. You can also save money on housing, depending on your situation and where you live.
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