It’s almost summer! Before you grab your bags and head out for some fun in the sun, take some time to make some of these smart money moves to ensure your finances are in tip-top shape.
Smart Money Moves You Can Make Today
Make or 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. You can read more here on exactly how to set up a budget that works.
If you already have a budget, then 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. If you are confused about the difference between good debt and bad debt and whether it makes sense financially to pay off your debt, you can use a financial calculator to decide.
For example, you can take your credit card debt and plug it into the Credit Card Payment Calculator and see how much you are paying in interest and how long it will take you to pay it off. Now, a credit card balance may be a no-brainer to pay off, but what about student loans and car loans? Plug it into a Simple Loan Calculator and then use that information to set up your financial plan. No need to make decisions in the dark when you can find the information yourself!
Set up Systems and Automate
The best way to save is to set up systems that allow you to save without any extra steps. How? Set up automatic deposits into your savings accounts. Even if you only have $5 a month to spare, make sure that it is regularly deposited into a savings accounts. 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 added bonus is if you set up automatic payments and withdrawals, you won’t even miss the money!
Fill up an Emergency Fund
Gotta love our emergency funds. At least, I love my Emergency Fund, or Life Happens fund, as I like to call it. When life happens, and it will 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 will help you better deal with your troubles- physically and emotionally. Not every emergency needs to wreck your financial future, and some things are easy to solve with a bit of cash. Help your future self and start an emergency fund today.
Set Habits and Start a Challenge
Set small achievable 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. 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 use a visual tracker to literally see your money add up. If you keep at it, then your saving muscle will be strong, and it will be a habit that is hard to break (and that is a good thing!). You can check out the $1,000 Savings Challenge if you want to start a money-saving challenge.
Set a Goal and Dream
Decide where you want to be financially next summer. 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. If you feel like you are depriving yourself to save, 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, discuss what financial security can do to your life. This will help you feel like you are working towards something instead of just denying yourself something today. If you write down your goal or dream and place it somewhere you will constantly see it (the fridge, door, etc) then you will find 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 stay away from fads and quick deals until you know what you are doing. Those games are dangerous and can end badly. If you are looking for a way to invest your spare change- check out the acorns app.
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 a month into my retirement account, and I started at $5. No, it’s not enough to retire on by 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 it, 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 or even 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. Do some research and find the best ones for you!
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. 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.
Are you planning on making any of these best money moves this summer? Let me know!