Getting your finances in order can drive you crazy. It can be frustrating, overwhelming, and a ton of other negative emotions.
One way to combat those all-consuming emotions is to focus on small wins you can make that will contribute to the larger picture.
Check out these seven easy financial wins you can make today and feel good about yourself knowing you’re taking the right steps on your financial journey.
1. Know Your Debts
Most of us have some sort of debt we’re paying off. Whether that’s student loans, a car payment, or credit cards, these payments are taking money from us each month. The worst thing you can keep doing, however, is continuing to pay them mindlessly without knowing what you’re chipping away at.
Making sure you know your debts is a huge step towards getting serious on your personal finance journey. Getting started is easy – you can download apps like Credit Karma which does a nice job giving you a simplified view at your financial profile.
From there, you can gauge your net worth, check out your credit score, and make a plan to pay off any small debts that just need to go. You’ll have one less debt to worry about and can focus on raising your credit score.
2. Make It Automatic
Let’s be honest, we’ve all missed a payment at some point. This leads to unnecessary late fees and worst? If it’s left unpaid for too long, it can affect your credit negatively.
A super easy win you can make today is automating your monthly expenses. It shouldn’t take more than an hour of your time and it’s a huge relief in the end.
3. Open a High-Yield Savings Account
A high-yield savings account is an account that earns a higher APY than a traditional account. It’s the perfect place to keep your savings as you build it up. It allows you to earn money on your money without having to do nothing more than open the account.
Getting set up is easy. Other perks of these accounts include no maintenance fees and waived ATM fees (but that can vary depending on the bank you enroll with).
So far, I’ve earned $20 of interest on my money as we save up for our first house. That’s $20 more than I had before!
4. Start Packing Your Lunches
Another small win you can make is to start packing your lunches. On average, people are spending $7.64 a day on lunch. That adds up quickly and you can find yourself spending more money than you’d like.
Packing your lunch allows you to get creative with your food choices and also helps shape your mindset on other spending activities. Plus, it also helps you with planning healthier meal choices and eliminates the need to pick up crappy food in a pinch. You’ll love how much you’ll save!
5. Start a Budget for Yourself
Before I got serious on my own personal finance journey, I was mindlessly spending. I didn’t associate a dollar amount with things like food shopping or every day expenses. I would just buy and “figure it out later.”
While my budgeting system is still in its infancy, it’s allowed me to get more intentional with my spending. I now allocate certain amounts each month towards groceries, savings, etc.
I’m also more conscious about putting money aside for expenses I know are going to come up in the future like vet visits or needing to buy contacts. This helps eliminate a lot of the stress that would come from just spending the money and figuring out the rest later.
To get started, just take a look at what your monthly income is and where that money is going towards. Apps like Mint and Personal Capital will give you a breakdown of what categories you’re spending money on. You can also review your bank statements.
Going from mindless spending to intentional spending with a budget can be a shock at first. You can always start small by picking just one area (say, groceries) that you’re going to allot for. This will help you get into the habit of budgeting and will flow into other spending categories.
Now, I allocate $40 a week towards groceries (Mike and I split) and as a result, I’ve factored that into my monthly expenses and have a better idea of what I’m actually spending.
6. Take Full Advantage of Your 401K
Do you know how much you’re contributing to your 401K? Do you know your employer’s match? An easy win is to take full advantage of your employer’s match. That’s free money you’re leaving on the table!
Every company is different, so it’s important to read the terms for yours. You can always ask HR or Payroll to help, too. This is such an important foundational step for your future so the sooner you start, the better.
7. Cut Costs on Recurring Bills
Car insurance, cable bills, phone bills – these are all expenses that could allow you to cut some corners. Tackle this small win by calling these companies up and seeing what discounts or plans you could take advantage of. While you don’t want to skimp on coverage for your car insurance, you could cut out the insurance for your phone (just don’t get clumsy).
If you fall short of getting any discounts with your current provider, consider switching to another. My mom switched from Comcast to Fios for her cable and saved $93. If you don’t watch all your channels, consider cutting cable altogether and opting for a streaming service like Netflix, HBO Go, or Hulu.
These seven financial wins help me feel like I’m doing something right on this long, winding road. But it’s all worth it in the end!
I’d love to know what you think. Is there a method you’d add to this list? Let me know in the comments below!
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