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How to Whip Your Finances into Shape This Month

A bill here and a cashmere sweater there. Before you know it, you’re wondering where all your money has gone. We tapped PureWow’s Special Projects Editor and our resident money guru, Rachel Bowie, to get her smartest and simplest tips for taking control of your finances.

learning to budget

Week 1: Peep Your Monthly Bank Statement (and Cut a Recurring Expense)

You know the necessities (rent, food, your phone), but set aside 30 minutes this week to scan your recent bank statement and pinpoint one unnecessary item you can definitely live without. “Even if it’s small (say, a weekly pedicure—something that’s more of a priority in the summer), it can add up to serious savings over time,” Rachel says. One of the quickest ways to cut back spending is by nixing unnecessary restaurant outings. Instead, invite some friends over and make your own restaurant experience. A delicious and affordable option is Well Yes! soups, which come in a variety of flavors, like Minestrone with Kale and Butternut Squash Apple Bisque—saving you money and cooking time.

money jar

Week 2: Automate and “Nickname” Your Savings

It’s easy to dip into savings when it’s just a lump sum of cash. But try setting (and forgetting) $50 a month toward your trip to “J’aime Paris” in May. Hey, those macarons won’t pay for themselves. Or put $100 toward the cost of a new car. Most banks allow you to nickname these accounts—and having your savings goals spelled out makes it much more motivating to save.

paying credit card

Week 3: Renegotiate Your Credit Card APR

2018 is the year you will zero out your credit card debt. Yes, it’s totally possible. Try giving yourself a running start by contacting your credit card company to find out if they can offer you a more competitive interest rate. If you’ve been making regular payments on time, the odds are in your favor that they’ll give you a better deal. See? Those “pay credit card” reminders have paid off.

mobile banking

Week 4: Walk Away from Banks Charging You Crazy Fees

Rachel says, “It’s a scary thing to break up with your bank.” But think of it this way: If they’re assessing you two dollars every time you hit up the ATM, they’ve got to go. It simply isn’t worth it. Spend this week analyzing to see any miscellaneous fees your bank tends to charge and then research an alternative. It may seem like a hassle to switch over all your information, but it’s worth it in the long run.