10 Things You Can Do to Improve Your Finances Right Now

Ways To Improve Your Finances

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!

Ways To Improve Your Finances
*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich, Disease Called Debt and I Am the Future Me

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62 Comments

  1. I grew up always ordering water at restaurants, and I always do to this day, because the price for a glass of soda is ridiculous in comparison to the price of a 2-liter. But my husband just can’t get on bored with that–when he goes out to eat, he wants a refreshing soda too, and it’s not worth $3 for me to fuss him over that. haha! I guess between the two of us, I’m the somewhat more practical one. And neither of us have had a job with an associated retirement plan for the last few years, thought we did take advantage of it when it was there…so that doesn’t bode well for retirement…but I guess I’m a typical 24 year old who isn’t all that focused on retirement at the moment…
    Rachel G recently posted…How I Make Time for HobbiesMy Profile

    • If you can open a Roth IRA or some sort of retirement plan, DO IT! Start young! That’s the best time to start and I so wish I had…and as far as the soda, at least 1 of you guys is saving right? 🙂

  2. Yes to canceling unused subscriptions! Guilty! Actually, I recently read that millions of people are subscribed to services they don’t use just because they’ve automated their subscriptions. It’s an easy trap to fall into. Thanks for these tips!

  3. I do most of these already. I remember wanting a soda at a restaurant when I was little and my mom made a big deal about how expensive it was (I think this was back before free refills). It’s amazing what habits we pick up for whatever reasons or which ones stay with us.

    • It’s interesting how stuff impacts us when we become adults! The water thing is something I still struggle with, but I think maybe it’s because my parents had such strict rules about drinking soda when I was young that when I moved out, I started drinking it all the time. It’s been hard to break.

  4. These are all great suggestions and very similar to ones I have done on my blog. It is insane when you take a deeper look at your lifestyle at just how much money we are wasting away. Save, Save, Save!
    Mayra Murillo recently posted…WELLTH BOOK REVIEWMy Profile

  5. WE automatically transfer money into savings every month. Such a good idea!

  6. These are great tips. I am going to pin this so I can go back and refer to them. I like the idea of rounding up a loan payment. I just did that last month for some unknown reason. So when I saw it on your list I thought I am going to do more that. Thank you!!!

  7. I wrote a similar post on my blog about saving money and also mentioned getting water when you go out to eat. Skip the desserts and appetizers as well! Great tips and I am always looking for more ways to save money! Thanks for linking up with us at Blogger’s Spotlight and please come back this Thursday!

  8. Oh, my! Yes, yes, and yes! There are so many little things one can do that add up to big bucks saved.
    Blessings, Leigh

  9. I just wanted to let you know that I will be featuring your post on the Blogger’s Spotlight link up that goes live tonight at 10pm EST.

  10. Really all you can do is make baby steps. Many people look for quick fixes but they don’t exist, start with the simple wins you can do, like what you listed here. After that then start working on the more difficult stuff. A marathon runner starts off running just a little and builds the endurance up over time.

    • I love that thought about the marathon runner! That’s a great point! And you’re right…quick fixes are often too good to be true.

    • You’re on a roll! It’s really hard to find that line between not giving up a ton of taxes in your paycheck, yet not owing. Good luck!

  11. Any and all tips are great, I do pretty good, it is my husband who has trouble saving. I have to keep reminding him. An app to help budget might come in handy though. My credit union rounds up my spending for me on my daily transactions. Every little penny adds up.

  12. Great tips! I use a consignment store for both my daughter and I. We take in unwanted clothes seasonally (so they are displayed right away). Whenever we need something new (to us!), we can use our store credit. I have not paid for clothes, besides underwear, in over a year!

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  15. I love these! It’s amazing how much you can save by ordering water when you eat out. Sometime instead of ordering 2 kids’ meals which can be close to $6 each, I’ll have kids share an adult entree. It can save money too!

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