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Before making any changes, you need to know what you have. Start things off by organizing your finances. Collect all of your information into one place, including:
Credit and debit cards
Retirement and HSA accounts
For virtual records, make sure everything is stored in a folder on your computer or on an external hard drive somewhere you can easily find.
Now that you know all of the different accounts you have, look at where you can cut back.
Maybe you have a 401(k) from an old job or an old savings or checking account you no longer use.
Make sure to take whatever assets remain or pay off any outstanding debts, and try to cut back on the number of places you have money. This will make managing your finances easier.
It will also make your finances more secure. The more accounts you have, the more at risk of identity theft you are.
One thing though; credit cards. Canceling a credit card can have a negative impact on your credit score. See if your bank will allow you to lock the card instead. You’ll still have the account but no one will be able to use it. If closing the card won’t lower your score, then go ahead and do so.
For most of us, once we’ve chosen the insurance policies for our homes, cars, health, and assets, we just stick with them forever. But, as we grow, and things change, what once was good may not be any longer.
There could be cheaper options or you may be paying for more than you actually need.
Review all of your policies and take some time to shop around. Saving even a few dollars a month can really add up, often times faster than we even realize.
Getting a large tax return this year? Sure, it feels good once a year, but it’s actually a waste to let Uncle Sam hang on to all that money.
You could have been dropping those extra dollars into savings, a retirement fund, or other investments. Or, it could have been really helpful in a financial pinch at some point during the year.
After you fill out your 2020 taxes, take a look at your W4 and get your money throughout the year instead of just once a year.
Forget a tax refund, a better way to get some money back once a year, is to gather up all the things in your life you no longer use and make a little money off of them.
Take your new or gently used clothes and homegoods to consignment. Or if you have the time, hold a garage sale and keep all of the funds.
You’re likely not sitting on a goldmine, but you might as well get as much as you can from your stuff you’re not using.
Don’t forget to donate everything that doesn’t sell and get a receipt. Those donations can be used to reduce your taxes for 2021.
Some of those things you’re getting rid of probably seemed like worthwhile purchases at the time. In retrospect, the money spent on them probably could have been better spent elsewhere.
Take a look at what are your biggest non-essential (rent, bills, groceries, gas) expenditures. You might be surprised at how much you actually spend on things like shopping, eating out, nights out with friends, and coffee, etc.
Don’t completely cut it all out. The things we enjoy are what help to make life fun. That said, find places to cut back. A few cuts here and there can help make the tough financial times in our lives that much easier.
It won’t be easy. It usually takes about three months of budgeting before it really sticks. Keeping track of the money saved from spending cuts will make it that much easier.
The easiest way to save is to not have to think about it.
Set up a portion of your paycheck to automatically be deposited into a savings account.
You can even automate bill pay, to ensure you don’t miss any monthly bills and get stuck paying late fees.
There are some things you can do in and around the home to make it more energy efficient and lower your bills.
Schedule an HVAC professional to service your AC. It’s a short term investment that can turn into long term savings.
Turn off the AC. Instead, open your blinds and curtains to warm the house and open windows to cool it down.
Turn off the lights. Your blinds and windows are already open. Keep them that way to let in natural light. It will cut down on electricity bills and lengthen the life of your lightbulbs.
It may sound crazy, but you can save up a decent amount of money in just a short period with a spending freeze.
Essentially, for two weeks, don’t spend money you don’t absolutely have to. Spring is a great time of year to do a spending freeze because there aren’t that many extra expenses popping up like there are in winter and summer months.
It’s a great way to save up some money in a short period for a big purchase, vacation, or to recover from the holidays.
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