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With summer just around the corner and more opportunities emerging to go out as people get vaccinated, now is the perfect time to get your bank account ready for some fun times! Here are five easy tips to get you feeling good about your money.

Track Your Purchases

One of the best ways to learn about your money habits is to document your spending. You can use a spreadsheet, a notebook or even an app to track the amount spent and category for all of your purchases for a set period of time. Then, look over your purchases to get a feel for what takes up most of your budget. This can be a great tool if you have no clue where your money is going or if you are looking for places where you can cut spending to save up for a special trip or big purchase. For example, if you spend a lot of money going out with friends, try suggesting budget-friendly alternatives like a movie night or picnic. 

Pay Yourself First

One of the best ways to increase your savings is to automatically transfer money into your savings account every time you get a paycheck or direct deposit. Having separate accounts can be a great way to keep your spending money separate from your savings and resist the urge to dip into the money going toward that beach trip! This can also help you feel guilt-free about spending the rest of your paycheck knowing that you've already tucked some of it away into your savings. 

Join Rewards Programs

A great way to stretch your hard-earned money is to join rewards programs. Lots of stores and restaurants have apps that help you enter your purchases to rack up points you can use for discounts or free meals! Another great option for people who spend a lot of time on their computers is joining an internet rewards program. For example, Microsoft Rewards allows you to trade in points earned by searching on Bing for gift cards to Target, Starbucks, Dunkin' Donuts and more!  

Set Specific Financial Goals

Saving can be hard when you don't have a clear goal or motivation to put money away. Try setting a goal that gets you excited but still feels achievable. Then, come up with a reward you can look forward to! For example, if your goal is to save $500, you can decide that when you do, you'll celebrate by planning a hiking trip with your friends. Setting clear goals makes saving money a lot easier and more rewarding, and you'll feel good knowing what you're working toward!

Get Started With Investing

Investing is a great way to build up wealth over time, and today, you can start with just a dollar! There are lots of apps that help you invest in stocks, index funds or money market accounts straight from your phone. You can also open an account with a major investment company such as Fidelity or Vanguard. Make sure to check the level of risk before investing, and try not to invest any money you'll need in the near future — investing works best when you leave your money alone and let it grow! 

Money can be a big source of stress for many of us, but it doesn't have to be! Try these five habits and you'll be pleasantly surprised the next time you open your banking app! 

Ruta Petrikis

Chapel Hill '24

Ruta Petrikis is a first-year at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill studying chemistry and Spanish.
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