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Tips to Save and Spend Wisely in 2017

Did you get carried away with the holiday spirit this past season? On the heels of hefty spending, the New Year is the best time to take stock of personal finance habits and make beneficial changes for the year ahead.

Here are some useful tips and tricks to spend and save wisely in 2017.

Think Long-Term

Don’t neglect the future. It’s never too early to save for retirement. In fact, the sooner you start, the better off you will be. Invest through a company-sponsored plan if possible. If not, look into IRAs that can help you grow your wealth exponentially.

Create Categorized Funds

Consider the 52-week savings challenge. In the first week, save $1, followed by $2 the second week, all the way through week 52, when you put aside $52. Sticking to this plan results in $1,378 saved at the end of the year, as well as any interest you’ve earned.

Creating a savings account for a specific purpose is a perennially sound savings strategy. Look for banks that are fee friendly, such as Ally Bank Member FDIC, ally.com, which allows you to open an Online Savings or Money Market account with no minimum and no monthly maintenance fee. You can deposit money easily through e-check deposit, direct deposit and you’ll earn interest compounded daily on your savings. In addition, putting this money in a separate account allows you to track your spending against the account balance.

Use Shopping Apps

It is incredibly easy to save money with a little online research. With a few minutes effort, you’ll find discount codes, loyalty programs or cashback websites that track your purchases and reward you for the extra step of navigating through their shopping portal instead of going straight to the big name retailers’ websites.

Reap Rewards

While no personal finance expert would advocate running up credit card bills one can’t afford, savvy consumers know how to take advantage of credit card reward programs for hotel points, airline miles or just straight cash in their pockets.

“Use credit cards that reward you for the things you buy the most,” says Diane Morais, chief executive officer and president of Ally Bank, the direct banking subsidiary of Ally Financial Inc.

There are often offers for opening a new credit card with a minimum spend, such as the Ally CashBack Credit Card, which provides a $100 bonus when you make $500 in eligible purchases during the first three billing cycles, and offers two percent cash back at gas stations and grocery stores, and one percent cash back on all other purchases — as well as 10 percent bonus on rewards that are deposited into an eligible Ally Bank account.

If you don’t want to open a new account, check your current credit cards for promotions or cash back offers, which can add up quickly on everyday purchases.

With a little homework, savvy consumers can make 2017 the year they spend strategically and save more.

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