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Increase Your Income in Ways Most People Don’t Know

Increase Your Income in Ways Most People Don’t Know

Like it or not, money is a reality we all have to face. Most of us understand that the things that are really important in life are experiences, friends, and family, but it is hard to escape the fact that financial freedom gives you a lot more time to make the most of those things. Couple that with the fact that not being able to pay your bills is one of the most stressful experiences a person can have, and you begin to understand that the ability to generate income is a key skill for most people. So what can you do to most effectively increase income?

1. Make a plan.

As with most things in life, the key to making money is to have a good plan in place. Having a set of instructions to follow will keep you on task and help you feel like you are making progress even on days when it is hard to see any movement. Each week, think of what you want to accomplish and write down the things you will need to do to get there. Break down the steps you will take to reach you goal and assign each of them to a day on your calendar. When that day comes, make sure you are doing everything you can to move towards success.

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2. Prioritize your actions.

It is a simple fact of life that 20% of the work you do will be responsible for 80% of the success you achieve. Whether you call it the 80/20 rule or Pareto’s Principle, the lesson remains the same: you should prioritize the 20% of your work that is likely to lead to success. Identify and focus your energy on proven sources of income or projects with a good probability of paying off big time. You still need the other 80%, which is usually side projects or ideas in the making, but build your day around your core projects and avenues for success.

3. Try something new.

Nothing will erode your confidence like spinning your wheels on a project that ends up going nowhere. If you have committed a lot of time to a project that isn’t paying off, don’t be afraid to walk away. There is a principle in psychology called justification of effort that says people are more committed to things that they have invested a lot of time and energy in already. This can lead to stubbornly wasting your time on things that will never pay off. Know when you cut your losses and move on to something new.

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4. Say “no.”

Your time is the most valuable resource you have and overextending yourself will drain it. Taking on too many projects will also lead to increased stress and less opportunity to pursue exciting opportunities. Cultivate your ability to say no to things. When a new opportunity comes along, ask yourself if the investment of time it requires is likely to pay off in a way that you feel is appropriate. If the answer is no, walk away.

5. Surround yourself with success.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but a great way to achieve financial success is to act like you already have. The notion of “fake it until you make it” actually holds some water. If you spend your time hanging out with successful people in places where money tends to concentrate itself, you will stumble into more opportunities to achieve success yourself. Make friends with people who have already achieved what you hope to achieve and use those ties to your advantage.

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6. Be a leader.

A well-known key to success in business and in life is the ability to recognize an opportunity before anyone else. With that in mind, you should always be on the lookout for the next great path to success. Keep your mind as open as possible and never stop engaging with the world in creative ways. Expose yourself to as many conflicting perspectives as you can by reading books to disagree with and taking meetings with people you don’t like. Viewing something from all angles is the best way to really understand it and will help you blaze a new trail.

7. Understand time versus replication.

The idea of time is so important, it is worth mentioning again. It is the only resource you can’t do anything to change. No matter who you are or how much money you make, there will still only be 24 hours in a day. For that reason you should focus your energy on sources of income that you can easily reproduce. Do something once and then replicate it as many times as possible to bring in the most money. This is the philosophy promoted my creator of the Dilbert comic strip Scott Adams in his book How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big and it holds true for you too. Now he makes a living drawing a single comic and having it published in thousands of newspapers all over the world. Time is valuable, so make sure your work transcends it.

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Featured photo credit: 401(K) 2012 via flickr.com

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Last Updated on January 2, 2019

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

Do you know what mental health experts point to as the biggest cause of stress in the United States today? If you said “money,” then ding, ding, we have a winner!

Three out of four adults today report feeling stressed out about money at least part of the time. People are either worried about not having enough money or whether they’re putting the money they do have to use in the best possible way.

Your money is either in charge of you or you’re in charge of it, there’s no middle ground. Using some type of personal finance software can help alleviate some of that money stress and better allow you to manage your money effectively. Without it, you may just be setting yourself up for constant financial worry. Life is already tough enough and there’s no need to make it more difficult by simply hoping your money issues will all work out in your favor. Hint: they won’t.

This guide will help you to understand how personal finance software can better assist with both accomplishing long term financial goals and managing day-to-day aspects of life.

Whether it’s tracking the savings plan for your child’s college fund or making sure you won’t be in the red with the month’s grocery budget, personal finance software keeps all this information in one convenient place.

What Exactly is Personal Finance Software?

Think of it like the dashboard in your car. You have a speedometer to tell you how fast you’re going, an odometer to tell you how far you’ve traveled, and then other gauges to tell you things like how much gas is in the tank and your engine temperature. Personal finance software is essentially the same thing for your money.

When you install this software on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, it helps to track your money — how much is going in, how much is going out, and its growth. Most personal finance software programs will display your budget, spending, investments, bills, savings accounts, and even retirement plans, levels of debt, and credit score.

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How It Leads to Financial Improvement

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but people who regularly monitor their finances end up wealthier than those who don’t. When you were a kid, keeping track of all of your money in a porcelain piggy bank was pretty easy. As we get older, though, our money becomes spread out across things like car payments, mortgages, retirement funds, taxes, and other investments and debts. All of these things make keeping track of our money a lot more complicated.

Some types of personal finance software can help make things a little less complicated, setting you up to meet financial goals and taking away some of the stress associated with money.

Even if you already have a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) some type of personal finance software can be of great benefit. Whereas CFPs focus on the big picture of your money, they don’t handle the day-to-day aspects that determine your overall financial health.

It’s also not nearly as complicated as you might think and can take out a lot of the tedium that comes with doing everything on an Excel spreadsheet or with a pad and pencil.

Types of Personal Finance Software

When it comes to personal finance software, it generally fits into two categories: tax preparation and money management.

Tax preparation software such as Turbo Tax and H&R Block’s software can help with everything from filing income taxes to IRS rules and regulations and even estate plans. Plus, there’s the benefit of filing online and getting your refund check a lot faster than if you were to mail off your forms after waiting in line at the post office.

For the purpose of this article, however, will be focusing more on the personal finance software that aids with money management.

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Money management personal finance software will help you to see the health of your cash flow, pay down debt, forecast for expenses and savings, track investments, pay bills, and do a host of other things that 30 years ago would have practically required a team of accountants.

When to Use Personal Finance Software

So far we’ve gone over what exactly personal finance software is and how it can be a benefit to your money. The next logical step in this whole equation is determining when it should be used and how is the best way to go about getting started using it.

Below are four of the most common and practical ways to use personal finance software. If all or any of these apply to you and your money, then downloading some type of personal finance software is going to be a smart move.

1. You Have Multiple Accounts

There’s a good chance that when it comes to your money, it’s in more than one place. Sure, you probably have a checking account, but you may also have a savings account, money market account, and retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401k.

If you’re like the average American, you probably have two to three credit cards as well. Fifty percent of Americans also don’t have loyalty to just one bank and spread their money across multiple banks.

Rather than spending hours typing in every detail of every account you have into a spreadsheet, many programs allow you to easily import your account information. This will help to eliminate any mistakes and give you a bird’s eye view of everything at once.

2. You Want to Automate Some or All of Your Payments

Please don’t say that you’re still writing out paper checks and dropping each bill in the mailbox. While it’s noble that you’re doing your part to keep postal workers employed, we’re 18 years into the 21st century and you can literally pay every bill online now.

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There’s no need to log into every account you have and type in your routing number either.

With personal finance software you can schedule automatic payments and transfers between all of your imported accounts. Automatic transfers will help to make sure you have the necessary funds in the right account to ensure all bills are paid on the appropriate date. Late fees are annoying and do nothing but cost you money. It’s time that you said goodbye to them once and for all.

3. You Need to Streamline Your Budget

Perhaps the best feature of personal finance software is that it allows you track everything going in and out of your virtual wallet.

Nearly every brand of personal finance software out there has easy-to-read graphs and charts that allow you track every cent you spend or earn, should you choose. You might be pretty amazed when you see just how much you spent on eating out last month or if you splurged a little more than you should have on Christmas gifts last year.

Every successful business on the planet has a budget and using personal finance software can help you trim the fat on your spending in ways that affect your everyday life.

4. You Have Specific Goals to Meet

Maybe it’s paying off debt or saving for up something like a European vacation. Whatever your financial goal is, whether it’s long-term or short-term, personal finance software programs are one of the savviest ways to go about reaching those goals.

You can do everything from set spending alerts to notify you when you’re over budget to automating what percentage of your paycheck goes to things like retirement investments. The personal finance software that you choose should show you exactly how close you are to hitting those goals at any given time.

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How to Get Started

From AceMoney to Mint and Quicken, there ’s no shortage of personal finance software apps out there. Many of these programs are free to download and will allow you to pay bills, invest, monitor your net worth and credit profile, and even get a loan with the swipe of a finger.

Other programs may only offer you limited services and will require a one-time fee or subscription to unlock all that they offer. These fees can often vary from as little as two dollars to 50 bucks a month.

It’s best to start off with the free version and then gauge whether you’re able to accomplish everything you’d like or if it’s worth exploring one of the paid options. Often times the subscription programs come with assistance from financial planning and investment experts — so that can be a real benefit.

When deciding which personal finance software program to use, it’s also important to look at how many accounts you wish to monitor. Certain programs limit the number of accounts you can add. Be sure that if you have checking, credit card, and investment accounts to monitor, that you choose a service that can monitor them all.

Finally, when looking around for the right personal finance software that meets your needs, make sure that you’re comfortable with the program’s interface. It shouldn’t be expected that you recognize every single feature instantly, but if the features don’t seem readable and manageable to you, then you’re not as likely to use it and get the full benefits.

Final Thoughts

Personal finance software can go a long way in helping you to take control of your money and meeting your financial goals. It’s important to note, however, that some focus more on budgeting and expense tracking while others prioritize investing portfolios and income taxes. Explore several different programs and read reviews to find the one that’s right for you.

In this day and age, managing one’s personal finances in a secure manner that allows the user to have a real-time visual representation of their money is easier than ever before. With the numerous applications that are out there — both free and subscription-based — there’s no reason that every person can’t take control of their money and ensure they’re making smart money moves.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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