Read this list of 10 things you can do to improve your finances to find out how you can get your money working harder for you.
10 Things You Can Do to Improve Your Finances: Your finances may not be your favorite subject, but if you want to make sure you’re well off in the future, it’s important to take care of them now. Whether it’s planning your budget better or paying down your debts sooner.
10 Things You Can Do to Improve Your Finances
There are plenty of small things you can do to make sure you’re on the right track financially in the years to come. Here are 10 habits that will improve your finances and set you up for financial success.
The best way to ensure your money works for you is to save. If you have a steady income and live below your means, saving should be easy. But what if you don’t? One of the hardest things about saving money is creating room in your budget to set aside cash for savings. You might be able to find an extra $100 per month by cutting back on your spending, but where exactly should that $100 go? Put it into savings.
It’s good to spend less than you earn—that’s how wealth is built—but it doesn’t do any good if all that extra money goes into consumer debt or frivolous purchases instead of growing over time in a safe place that can later be withdrawn from when needed (and eventually invested).
For example, think about an emergency fund: It’s not much use if you don’t have one! And while it may seem like having more money to spend today is better than putting away a little bit each month, remember that tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. Saving now could make all the difference down the road.
2) Save Some More
Creating a budget is a lot easier than you think. The hardest part might be getting started, but once you set up your basic categories (think housing, utilities, food, transportation), every expense you incur from that point on becomes easy to track and assess. Another benefit of being more mindful about how much money you’re spending is that it will help minimize emotional spending.
That impulse buys you make when your finances are tight. Next time an extra $20 finds its way into your wallet (and there will be a next time), think about whether or not that unexpected windfall can find its way toward one of your regular expenses instead. You’ll end up with more savings in no time!
3) Track Your Spending
For many people, improving their finances starts with learning how to track their spending. It’s hard to cut expenses and save money if you don’t know where it all goes. The goal here is to be able to understand how much money you bring in on a monthly basis, what your fixed expenses are, and then how much remains after that for discretionary spending.
After tracking your spending for a month or two, you should have a better idea of where your money is going—and where there might be room for savings. This will also make it easier to start saving immediately rather than holding out until January 1st or some other arbitrary date on your calendar. Make sure to take a look at your credit report too, as errors could indicate potential identity theft.
There are plenty of free online tools that can help you keep track of your income and expenses like Mint or Personal Capital. To avoid debt buildup, try to pay off high-interest credit cards first; focus on building up an emergency fund before paying down student loans, and learn how much credit card debt impacts your credit score so you can plan accordingly when making big purchases like cars or houses.
4) Negotiate Better Deals
Negotiating gets a bad rap, but it doesn’t have to be a scary prospect. By understanding your BATNA (best alternative to a negotiated agreement), you can know how far you’re willing to go and what your walk-away plan is. The key is realizing that all negotiations are about compromise and making sure that you don’t back yourself into a corner. Start by familiarizing yourself with all of your options before making any firm commitments.
5) Go Paperless
We are a cashless society, which means many of us to have to carry around bulky wallets, which can cost us an estimated $5 per month (or more) in lost money, thanks to fees associated with old-fashioned paper checks. The only way to cut down on these expenses is by going paperless and ditching your physical wallet altogether.
With today’s technology, there is no need for you to bring a single bill with you while shopping; so long as you have your credit card or debit card with you (and know your PIN), there is nothing stopping you from being completely paperless! Sure, it might take some getting used to at first (especially if all of your friends still carry wallets), but eventually going cashless will become second nature. And when that happens, you’ll be saving yourself a lot of money.
6) Buy a Car at Least One Year Old
More expensive isn’t always better. If you’re in the market for a new car, it might make sense to buy a one-year-old model instead of a brand new one, especially if you want to save some money. Cars lose about 20 percent of their value within 12 months and another 10 percent or so during their second year on the road. By buying a one-year-old model instead of something more recent, you can avoid that depreciation and save thousands of dollars.
It’s a good idea to shop around because used cars are priced differently depending on where you live. But, generally speaking, prices will be lower in areas with high unemployment rates. Even though they may not be as fancy as newer models, used cars are still safer than older ones because manufacturers have made significant safety improvements over time. You should also consider leasing your next vehicle.
7) Invest in Quality Over Quantity
You’ll want to invest in quality items for your business and for yourself. This doesn’t mean that you need to buy designer clothing every week or a top-of-the-line laptop, but it does mean that you need to take care of these things once you have them. Also, don’t be afraid to spend money on yourself. Taking time out of your day each week to exercise will be good for your health, mood, and more! If you have to travel frequently for work, buy a quality suitcase that will last so that you aren’t having to replace it each year. If traveling by car is a necessity, buy a car with great gas mileage.
8) Delegate Tasks to Others
It can be tempting to try and tackle every task in your business on your own. After all, you’re trying to launch a new venture and you have limited resources (i.e., time). But if there are tasks that someone else could do better, save time by hiring them or outsourcing them to another company/person. This doesn’t just mean hiring out more difficult jobs—you can hire yourself out for lower-level tasks (like the bookkeeping) that don’t require expertise but do take up valuable time. Or find a local kid who is willing to mow lawns for money; it will save you time and money!
9) Learn How Interest Rates Work
When you’re getting ready to take out a loan or do any kind of borrowing, you should be aware of interest rates. Basically, interest is a charge that you pay your lender in exchange for their temporary use of your money. You can think of it as rent on your money; imagine if someone could just come into your bank account, remove all your funds, and leave you with nothing but an IOU note (and a promise to pay it back at some point).
While interest payments are due by contract law (whether we like it or not), that doesn’t mean you can’t be educated about them—interest rates fluctuate all over, and different loans have different rates.
10) Get Rid of Debts Fast
It’s pretty easy to get into debt, but it can be just as easy to get out of it. There are so many websites and resources available today that can help you calculate your monthly spending, set budgets, and offer ways for you to save money (in seconds!). If you are looking for a way to improve your finances, consider taking advantage of these services.
Stop buying fast food on the go every day—check out some recipes that allow you to eat dinner at home more often. Use technology as a resource, not as something that makes life more complicated. Most importantly: spend less than you earn! This is good advice no matter what age or stage in life you are in!
There is a lot of overlap between Business and Finance. In fact, many people think they are two completely different career paths; one is not really better than another. It really depends on your individual interests, goals, and values. At its core, finance is more quantitative while business requires a bit more creativity.
For example, if you’re always crunching numbers in school and want to advance in your career by working with data and trends instead of other people then finance may be right for you; On the other hand, if you love reading about products or simply just selling things then the business may be for you!