It’s getting chilly, and it’s time to start making soup, taking out coats, and… making some smart money moves!
Everyone wants to be financially responsible, but you may not even know where to start! Start by making some solid financial moves today to get your finances in shape for the summer this year!
Make and Review Your Budget
You need a budget! Your budget doesn’t need to be fancy, and you don’t need to pay for an app. Just calculate your income and expenses and calculate how much money you have to spend.
The cash envelope budgeting system is a great place to start.
If you already have a budget, now is the perfect time to revise it and prepare for the upcoming year. What life changes are you facing? What will you need to add to the budget, and what can you take out?
Pay Off Debt
Debt. That four-letter word. There can be a lot of conflicting advice regarding how to pay off debt, how soon, how smart, etc.
Paying down debt, especially with a high-interest rate, is your best smart move. Start a debt-payoff plan and pay down what debt you can.
For the debt you can’t pay off, consider how to lessen it or make it easier to pay off. You can try debt consolidation, debt settlement, or even transfer credit card debt to a credit card with a 0% intro apr or a lower interest rate.
While having a good credit score isn’t all that matters, paying down your debt can improve your credit score. A good credit score can help you in life in so many ways. It’s a smart money move to improve your score as much as possible.
Set Up Systems and Automate
The best way to save is to set up systems that allow you to save without extra steps. How? Set up automatic deposits into your savings accounts. Even if you only have $5 a month to spare, ensure you regularly deposit money into a savings account.
We have hectic lives, and it can be hard to remember to save every month (especially when dealing with small amounts- it doesn’t seem worth it!) But when you have the money regularly going into an account, it really adds up.
The bonus is that you won’t miss the money if you set up automatic payments and withdrawals!
Fill up an Emergency Fund
You have to love your emergency fund! At least, I love my Emergency Fund, or Life Happens fund, as I like to call it. When life happens (and surprises always happen), There is nothing like having money in the bank to make it a little easier to deal with the fallout.
Having money put aside for emergencies will save you pain down the road and help you better deal with your troubles- physically and emotionally.
Not every crisis needs to wreck your financial future, and some things are easy to solve with a bit of cash. So help your future self and start an emergency fund today. You should place your money in a high-yield savings account to earn some interest while you are saving it.
Build Good Money Habits and Start a Challenge
Set small achievable smart goals for saving, and then celebrate when you reach them. The best way to start saving successfully is to make it a habit. Don’t try to do some quick crash diet or fast.
Instead, save a little bit every paycheck or every day and watch the results roll in.
You can help motivate yourself by doing a money-saving challenge and using a visual tracker to see your money add up literally. If you keep at it, your saving muscle will be strong, and it will become a hard habit to break (which is a good thing!). As always, making living within your means a priority is the smartest thing you can do.
You can check out the $1,000 Savings Challenge if you want to start a money-saving challenge.
Set a Goal and Dream
Want to save money and live better? Decide where you want to be financially next year. First, think about what your financial bliss is. Then take steps and step up systems to make that happen.
Your state of mind is significant when it comes to managing your money. For example, if you feel like you are depriving yourself of saving money, you are more likely to keep spending the money instead of saving.
If you allow yourself to dream and imagine what opportunities your savings will allow you later in Life, you will have an easier time putting that money away. Think, write down, and discuss what financial security can do to your life.
This process will help you feel like you are working towards something instead of denying yourself something today. For example, if you write down your goal or dream and place it somewhere, you will constantly see it (the fridge, door, etc.), making it easier to stay on track to reach your goal.
Invest Your Money
Yup. Invest. After you have money in your emergency fund and your Life Happens fund and decide on a debt payoff plan, then it is time for some INVESTING! I don’t give investment advice, but you can start by looking into an Index Fund.
Try to avoid fads and quick deals until you know what you are doing. Those games are dangerous and can end badly.
Start Saving for Retirement
The earlier you start saving for retirement, the better! It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a lot of money to put into your retirement fund. Any amount is ok.
I put $10 monthly into my retirement account, starting at $5. No, it’s not enough to retire, but every dollar put in now is worth more than a dollar put in later- thanks to compound interest.
So do your best to find an amount that you can put away. Automate your savings so you don’t forget and don’t accidentally spend it. Try it and see if you miss it (I’m betting you won’t!), and then thank me later!
Work on Getting Extra Income
Do you need more money? Don’t we all? Increasing your income by negotiating a raise or taking on overtime or part-time work is the best way to move the needle on outstanding debts and low account balances.
If those don’t work for you, consider starting a side hustle, making some money, or getting some gift cards by doing surveys or playing games on apps. There are so many ways to make more money. Find out how to make 300 dollars fast when you need it!
Cut Out Extra Spending
I know! I’m not too fond of this advice because it can be hard to hear (especially if you spend so little money anyways), but look through your budget and see where you can cut some extra spending out; even a little bit can make a massive difference over time- use all the frugal living tips to try to cut as much as you can.
If you are in the mood for something drastic, consider going on an austerity budget and slowly add things back into your budget as you need them.
Take a look at some of your bills and see where you can negotiate or cut things out. Look up some reviews of energy suppliers and see if you can switch to something better or cheaper and lower your electric bill.
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This post originally appeared on A Dime Saved.