Things You Can Do To Improve Your Finances
If you’re unhappy with your financial situation and want, or need, to make some changes, the thought of it can be daunting. There are so many things you could do and different people offering opinions of what you should do, so where do you even start? It can be really overwhelming to think about and as a result many people just shove it aside and stop thinking about it while their financial situation continues to deteriorate.
The thing is you don’t have to do it all in one day! It’s a process and taking some steps here and there is better than continuing to avoid it. Here are some steps you can easily start right now to improve your finances.You don't have to do it all in one day, but you can start today. Click To Tweet
1. Get the Match
If your employer offers a match on their retirement plan, at a minimum contribute enough to your 401k to receive the employer match. Don’t pass up that free money! This perk is becoming increasingly rare, so take advantage of it!
2. Clean Your House
Look in your closet and return clothes that still have the tags on them. Pull out the clothes, purses, and accessories that you rarely wear or no longer fit properly and sell them to a consignment store. Sell books, CDs, DVDs, and magazines to used bookstores. You can sell other items you no longer want or need on neighborhood garage sale sites, Craigslist, eBay, or Nextdoor. Most police departments are considered “safe sites” for meeting people for buying and selling. There are many ways you can make money just by cleaning your house; get more ideas here.
3. Automate Savings
Automate your savings. Talk to your payroll department to set up automatic transfers from your paycheck to a savings account. If you don’t see it, you’re less likely to spend it and eventually you won’t even notice the money is missing while your savings grow. If you have multiple accounts you can set up several different automatic transfers; savings, Christmas fund, new car fund, and so on.
4. Round Up Debt Payments
Pay less interest and pay off your debt faster by rounding up your monthly debt payments. If your car payment is $375, pay $400 instead, or even more if you can. You can apply the same method to student loans, credit card bills, and your mortgage. Even the smallest amounts shave time off the life of the loan and decrease the amount of interest you’ll pay.
5. Adjust Your Tax Withholding
A large tax refund is just an interest-free loan to the government. Adjust your tax withholding so that you get more in your paycheck instead of a refund. The goal is to get a small refund, yet not owe any money back. If you do get a large tax refund, put it towards your debt or work on building a savings fund. Use it to better your financial situation.
6. Cancel Unused Subscriptions
Review your monthly bills and transactions and cancel unused memberships, subscriptions, or services such as magazines, Netflix, gym memberships and so on. You can always sign up again if you feel like you absolutely need it later on. Many places will pro-rate subscriptions and refund you for the part you’re not going to use, so it never hurts to ask. Are you paying for services and features you don’t use or need? Trim them where you can.Are you paying for services and features you don’t use or need? Click To Tweet
7. Lower Utility Bills
Take simple measures to lower your utility bills. Adjust your thermostat so it’s a little warmer in the summer, lower it a few degrees in the winter and bundle up. Turn off the lights when you leave a room. Make your shower a little shorter. Hang some of your clothes to dry (it’s better for the clothes too). Reduce your water bill and help the environment by installing low-flow shower heads
and aerators on your faucets. These are reasonably priced, so it won’t take long before you see a return on your investment. Did you know electronics still use power even when turned off? These “vampire charges” can run up your electric bill, so unplug things when you’re not using them. Once these things become a habit, it’ll become second nature and you’ll notice a difference in your bills.
8. Don’t Pay For What You Can Get For Free
This is one of my favorite pieces of personal finance advice, “Don’t pay for what you can get free.” Drink tap water instead of buying bottled and try a Brita filter if you can’t get used to the taste. Substitute soda and other expensive sugary drinks for water. Browse the news online or on TV instead of paying for newspapers and magazines. Skip the gym membership and do body-weight workouts at home, run outside, or buy some weights to use at home.
9. Order Water When You Eat Out
This goes along the lines of “don’t pay for what you can get free,” but honestly beverages are one of the most overpriced things at restaurants, sometimes marked up as high at 300%. Wow! Swap alcohol for soda, or soda for water and save some serious dough. Your waistline will probably appreciate it too!
10. Try an App
There are apps that make saving and investing easy and automatic. Acorns rounds up your transactions to the next whole dollar and invests your spare change. Digit tracks your spending habits and moves small amounts to a savings account sporadically. Both apps are free and work so subtly that you likely won’t even notice the missing funds, and in the meantime your savings and investments are growing! If you really feel like you just don’t have anything left to save, try these apps. They’ll find a little something here and there. There are other apps like Digit and Acorns that do the same thing, so find one you’re comfortable with.Baby steps are better than no steps when it comes to finances. Click To Tweet
Baby Steps Are Better Than No Steps
These suggestions are meant to get quick and easy, not time-consuming and drastic. Try to tackle one a day or one a week. Even the smallest steps are better than nothing and will improve your financial picture over time!