When was the last time you opened up all your bills and looked at them? Not just glanced at them, paid the minimum payment and then moved on, but actually studied the bills?  Gather up all your bills – credit card statements, utility bills, loan statements, and any other place you send money to – and sit down with a nice cup of coffee in preparation for some study time. You may be surprised at what you discover.

1. “Wow, I pay a lot of money in interest!” You can avoid paying interest on revolving accounts by paying the balance each month, but if your credit cards carry a balance then you’re inevitably going to get assaulted with fees.  You might even find that the monthly interest you’re charged is actually more than the minimum payment you have to make, so you’re in a perpetual state of racking up debt even if you don’t buy a thing.  Ouch!

2. “What in the world is this fee for?” Creditors aren’t perfect (as we all know) so they can make mistakes on bills that can wind up costing you a lot of money unless you catch the glitch.  You never know what might pop up…maybe the renters before you paid extra for a surge protector on the electric bill, but you could care less about it.  If the bill says you’re paying extra for something you never asked for, call the company and get a refund, pronto.

3. “I am seriously in debt.” Some people don’t study their bills simply because they don’t want to face the fact that they owe a bunch of money.  Ignoring the problem isn’t going to make it vanish, fashionista.  You have to face the facts head-on if you have any hopes of getting in control of your money. 

4. “I don’t need all this extra stuff.” When you buy a car the dealer tries to push disability insurance on you.  When you sign up for a credit card the issuer makes a valiant effort to talk you into getting payment protection.  Look at all the extras you pay for and cancel anything you don’t really need. 

It’s your money…take control of it! Remember—even a budget fashionista will never get never get ahead financially if she doesn’t know what she’s working with.

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