CHARLOTTE, N.C. — There is no time like the start of a new year to take a good look at your finances. But sometimes it can be tricky.
“The first step to rehabbing your finances is admitting you have a problem," financial expert Nicole Lapin said. "The only financial problem we can't fix is the one we don't admit we have."
She said to work out a budget by figuring out what you actually need and what is just a want.
“I like to break a budget down into the three E's -- essentials, endgame, and extras: 70% of your overall spending goes to the essentials, so your food, your housing, your transportation, everything you need to live on every single day; 15% goes to the future you, so your retirement and your savings. And then 15% goes to the extras. So the latte, the mani-pedi, whatever is fun for you.”
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While spending money on wants every single day isn’t going to save you money, Lapin said treating yourself every now and then will actually save you in the long run.
“If you don't allow for those small indulgences, just like with a regular diet, you'll end up binging later on," Lapin said.
There is one specific indulgence Lapin said people have been treating themselves to during the pandemic: subscriptions services.
“It's really easy for folks to sign up for free trials to apps that they think they're going to use all the time," Lapin said. "But then they forget about it, and that's $10, $20, or sometimes more a month, that's drained from our bank account. So this is a perfect time to go through your subscriptions and see what you can cancel and see what you're actually using.”
Another money-saving tip: call up your credit card companies to negotiate a better rate or negotiate a waiver of any fees. Lapin said the worst thing they can say is no, and if you don’t ask, the answer is always no.