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5 Personal Finance Habits to Follow Now

Americans are getting better at saving in the short-term, according to finance experts at the Motley Fool. Many are saving on water costs, for example, by taking short showers instead of baths and by not running the dishwasher until it’s full.

Yet, some 57 percent of U.S. adults have less than $1,000 in savings, and 39 percent have no savings at all. If you fit into one of those categories, consumer finance advisors suggest six basic finance habits you should be following:

Follow a budget. You’ve heard the advice dozens of times, but if you’re not sticking to a budget you created, you’re missing out on one of the most effective money management tools there is. Track your spending carefully, because you need to know where your money is going before you can figure out where to cut back and devise a budget plan that works.

Automate your savings. If you haven’t been a good saver, this one is for you, because it’s hard to spend money you don’t have on hand. Set up an automated savings plan, like having money deducted from every paycheck and deposited in a separate account.

Avoid impulse purchases. Make it a rule to wait 24 hours before you make an unplanned purchase. Chances are you’ll realize you don’t need that new toy or that expensive pair of shoes and stick to that old devil budget.

Pay your bills when you get them. Besides helping you to maintain good credit, paying your bills right away can help you stick to your budget. You can’t spend money that has already been spent!

Review your credit report quarterly. An estimated 20 percent of credit reports contain errors. You're entitled to a free copy of your credit report every year from each of the three major bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Request and review one of them online every four months, and report any errors right away.