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5 Small Decisions That Will Improve Your Financial Status

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5 Small Decisions That Will Improve Your Financial Status

Whether you have a little or a lot of money, there are many things that anyone can do to help improve their financial status.

Improving your finances is not about making life altering decisions. You do not need to become the world’s most well-informed investor or to create a budget that is so strict that you live on nothing but potatoes. Healthy money management is all about those small steps that you take towards greater overall financial health.

The end of the year is the time that many people think about changing their financial position for the better. If you’re not ready for a big resolution, you can make just as much progress by making several small decisions that are aimed at improving your finances.

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1. Get Informed

One of the most important things that you can do to improve your financial standing is to be informed about finance. You do not need to become an accountant or find a financial guru. It is all about educating yourself in the places that matter most.

The process of becoming better informed about your finances has two parts. First, you need to understand your own finances. Having a clear picture about where you currently stand is essential for setting and achieving your financial goals. You need to know what you have, what you earn and what you owe. This basic knowledge will have a real impact on how you look at finance.

Second, you need to know more about the basics of finance. You need to have an understanding of the impact of good debt and bad debt. You also need to know about how interest rates can work with you and against you. Learning about the different options that you have for saving money is another good place to start.

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2. Set Real, Achievable Goals

If you’re not already setting goals, there is no time like right now to begin doing so. If you are setting goals, there is no time like right now to measure your progress so that you can improve. Financial goals are important when it comes to improving your finances. These goals give you something to work for. They also give you something to measure your success by.

Setting goals is all about setting achievable goals. To do this, you need to be specific in the goals that you set for yourself.

Let’s say that your goal is to save money or pay off personal loans. You need to know how much money you want to save. You also need to know how you want to save it. Do you want to set up a savings plan to save $500 a month? Or do you want to cut spending to save an extra $200 for extra expenses?

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These are two different types of saving and you would use different methods of achieving each goal. This is why it is so important to make your goals as detailed as possible Do not forget to keep your goals attainable. An unreachable goal sets you up for failure and often hurts not only your finances but your attitude about money.

3. Take Your Time

Taking your time is one of the most important decisions you can make about your finances. Rome was not built in a day and your retirement accounts will not be either. Choosing to think about your financial decisions is also a multi-faceted approach. First, you should make sure that you take time to think about your purchases before you buy them. This helps weed out impulse buys and helps you spend money in a health way. One great way to do this is to put the item in your shopping cart online and if you are still thinking about it the next day, you may actually need the item.

Secondly, you should take your time creating a financial plan. When striving to reach a goal, give yourself enough time to reach it. Trying to save too much, too fast is hard to do. Have patience with yourself and your bank account.

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4. Eliminate Things You Don’t Use

Everyone has at least one bill that they pay every month for a service that they do not use. Whether yours is a landline, a gym membership or a subscription service that you have not figured out how to cancel, take some time to declutter your finances. Eliminating even one thing from your monthly selection of bills can make a big difference on your monthly finances. More importantly, it teaches you how to let go of spending habits that are not serving you.

5. Set Up an Automatic Savings Plan

Saving is important yet it is not at the forefront of everyone’s mind. You can make a decision to automate your saving plan to help make sure that it happens. Even if you only transfer $20 a month into a savings account, every little bit helps you build up a little nest egg. It also makes you more comfortable with saving. It’s a win-win decision.

Taking these small steps towards prosperity can take your further than you’d ever imagine. Remember that you have your whole life to manage your finances, you do not need to accomplish everything today.

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Featured photo credit: GotCredit via flickr.com

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Last Updated on January 5, 2022

33 Painless Ways to Save Money Now

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33 Painless Ways to Save Money Now

In a difficult economy, most of us are looking for ways to put more money in our pockets, but we don’t want to feel like misers. We don’t want to drastically alter our lifestyles either. We want it fast and we want it easy. Small savings can add up and big savings can feel like winning the lottery, just without all of the taxes.

Some easy ways to save money:

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  1. Online rebate sites. Many online sites offer cash back rebates and online coupons as well. MrRebates and Ebates are two I like, but there are many others.
  2. Sign up for customer rewards. Many of your favorite stores offer customer rewards on products you already buy. Take advantage.
  3. Switch to compact fluorescent bulbs. The extra cost up front is worth the energy savings later on.
  4. Turn off power strips and electronic devices when not in use.
  5. Buy a programmable thermostat. Set it to lower the heat or raise the AC when you’re not home.
  6. Make coffee at home. Those lattes and caramel macchiatos add up to quite a bit of dough over the year.
  7. Switch banks. Shop around for better interest rates, lower fees and better customer perks. Don’t forget to look for free online banking and ease of depositing and withdrawing money.
  8. Clip coupons: Saving a couple dollars here and there can start to add up. As long as you’re going to buy the products anyway, why not save money?
  9. Pack your lunch. Bring your lunch to work with you a few days a week, rather than buy it.
  10. Eat at home. We’re busier than ever, but cooking meals at home is healthier and much cheaper than take-out or going out. Plus, with all of the freezer and pre-made options, it’s almost as fast as drive-thru.
  11. Have leftovers night. Save your leftovers from a few meals and have a “leftover dinner.” It’s a free meal!
  12. Buy store brands: Many generic or store brands are actually just as good as name brands and considerably cheaper.
  13. Ditch bottled water. Drink tap water if it’s good quality, buy a filter if it’s not. Get 
      a reusable water bottle and refill it.
    • Avoid vending machines: The items are usually over-priced.
    • Take in a matinee. Afternoon movie showings are cheaper than evening times.
    • Re-examine your cable bill. Cancel extra cable or satellite channels you don’t watch. Watch the “on demand” movie purchases too.
    • Use online bill pay. Most banks offer free online bill paying. Save on stamps and checks, and avoid late fees by automating bill payment.
    • Buy frequently used items in bulk. You get a lower per item price and eliminate extra trips to the store later on.
    • Fully utilize the library. Borrowing books is much cheaper than buying them, but in addition to books, most local libraries now lend movies and games.
    • Cancel magazine/newspaper subscriptions: Re-evaluate your subscriptions. Cancel those you don’t read and consider reading some of the other publications online.
    • Get rid of your land-line. Do you really need a land-line anymore if everyone in the family has a cell phone? Alternatively, look into using VOIP or getting a cheaper plan.
    • Better fuel efficiency. Check the air pressure in your tires, keep up with proper auto maintenance, and slow down. Driving even 5MPH slower will result in better fuel mileage.
    • Increase your deductibles. Increasing the insurance deductibles on your homeowners and auto insurance policies lowers premiums significantly. Just make sure you choose a deductible that you can afford should an emergency happen.
    • Choose lunch over dinner. If you do want to dine out occasionally, go at lunchtime rather than dinnertime. Lunch prices are usually cheaper.
    • Buy used:  Whether it’s something small like a vintage dress or a video game or something big like a car or furniture, consider buying it used. You can often get “nearly new” for a fraction of the cost.
    • Stick to the list. Make a list before you go shopping and don’t buy anything that’s not on the list unless it’s a once in a lifetime, killer deal.
    • Tame the impulse. Use a self-enforced waiting period whenever you’re tempted to make an unplanned purchase. Wait for a week and see if you still want the item.
    • Don’t be afraid to ask. Ask to have fees waived, ask for a discount, ask for a lower interest rate on your credit card.
    • Repair rather than replace. You can find directions on how to fix almost anything on the internet. Do your homework, and then bring out your inner handyman.
    • Trade with your neighbors. Borrow tools or equipment that you use infrequently and swap things like babysitting with your neighbors.
    • Swap online. Use sites like PaperBack Swap to trade books, music, and movies with others online. Also, look for local community sites like Freecycle where people give away items they no longer need.
    • Cut back on the meat. Try eating a one or two meatless meals every week or cut back on the meat portions. Meat is usually the most expensive part of the meal.
    • Comparison shop: Get in the habit of checking prices before you buy. See if you can get a better price at another store or look online.

    Remember that saving money is not about being cheap or stingy; it’s about putting money into your bank account rather than giving it to someone else. There are many ways to save money, some you’ve never thought of, and some that won’t appeal or apply to you. Just pick a few of the ideas that sound doable and watch the savings add up. Save big, save small, but save wherever you can.

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    Featured photo credit: Damir Spanic via unsplash.com

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