Ready to make a big change in your finances? There is no better time than now to act and you can make some changes that can actually improve your situation almost immediately. Tina is here to help you with some simple things that you can do now to get your money picture in order.
1) Set A Budget
If you do not have a budget, you are running around blind in your financial world.
Take the time to write out a simple budget that will let you see where your money is going. Make sure that you are spending less than you take in and have money set aside for savings.
If you find that you have no money for savings, you need to make cuts in other areas.
Once you have your budget, you will have a guide that you can use throughout the month. It will keep you from overspending and keep your finances on track.
2) Start Saving
When you set your budget above did you add a new expense for a savings account?
If you do not have a savings, now is the time to start one. A savings account can help you prepare for the unexpected and you should have at least 3 to 6 months of bills in a well funded emergency savings account.
For best results, open your savings at a different bank than the one your checking account is at. This will keep the funds accessible but not instantly accessible.
3) Get A New Job
If you think your boss is going to give you a big raise out of the goodness of their heart, you are wrong. It doesn’t work that way anymore, as cost of living increases are the annual norm.
If you want the big bump in pay, like 10 to 20 percent, you need to dust off the resume and start applying for new jobs at other companies.
If you are in a white collar profession, a recruiter could even do all of the leg work for you. Reach out to a few and test the waters.
If you are in an in demand blue collar job, it should take minimal effort to find a new position. You might even be able to score a sign on bonus of 800 dollars or more.
4) Check Your Credit
If it has been more than six months since you checked your credit, it has been too long. The easiest way to do this is to join a service like Credit Karma that will give you access to Trans Union and Equifax. You will also want to check your Experian separately on that companies website.
Look for any inaccurate information and dispute it. Also, look for things that you can improve on. If you do not like your score, continue paying your bills on time and lower your credit card balances to improve them.
5) Join A Warehouse Club
If you are not buying in bulk, it might be time to do so. Even if you are single, there are dozens of ways to save with a discount warehouse club. If you are married with kids, there are even more.
Discount clubs cost, on average, about $50 a month. You can quickly pay for that membership plus some with savings on gas, dry goods, toiletries, produce, meat, travel and even new car rebates. I myself used my discount club membership to score a 500 dollar rebate on a new Dodge last year. Well worth the annual membership.
6) Audit Your Monthly Bills
You should do this once or twice a year. Run through your budget and look at every bill and see if there is a way to cut it down to size. Here are some examples.
- Auto Insurance
Rates can vary quite a bit from insurer to insurer. Now might be the time to call around and get some quotes. Before making the switch, also contact your current provider and offer them the chance to match the savings. If they can’t, move to the new company.
- Electric Providers
If you live in an area where you can choose your provider, rates per KWH will be very different from company to company. Unless you are under contract, it might be a good time to switch. When making the switch, watch out for contract lengths. You might get a great rate, for example, that is only guaranteed for 3 months. It might be more advantageous to get a slightly higher rate, guaranteed for a year.
- Credit Card Companies
If you have been paying on time, perhaps a rate reduction is in order. They will typically not just offer this kind of thing to you. You will have to ask and possibly threaten to cancel your account.
While you are at it, ask for a credit line increase. That could raise your available credit, lower your credit utilization and improve your credit score.
- Auto Loans
Auto refinancing is one of the easiest things that you can do. The finance companies do most of the work for you. Simply get your quote and if you like it accept and give them your loan information. The finance company will handle the rest of the transfer. Since it is so easy, if you are paying more than 5% interest on your auto loan, you should consider getting a quote.
7) Cut The Cord
If you are still paying for cable or satellite, get with it. Switch to a streaming service and save big. The average cable bill is approaching $90 a month and Netflix is around $10. Save $80 a month or over 900 dollars in a single year.
Besides the cost savings, there is another benefit to cord cutting. Having to actually choose individual programs to watch makes your television watching more efficient, more enjoyable and can make it a smaller part of your day.