|Odds are good that if you create a financial plan
today, reduce your debt and begin saving regularly,
you may be able to live more comfortably, with less
worry and maybe even retire as a millionaire. Set
some realistic goals about how you would like to
live now and in the future. Begin learning about
how to manage your money better, and develop a financial
plan that will help you achieve your goals - even
if you're living paycheck to paycheck.
10 Steps To Improve Your Financial
by Gregory Thomas
Here are ten steps you can follow to help improve your
personal financial situation and inevitably save more
1. Pay Yourself Weekly
This may seem a bit odd, but this is an excellent way
to start building a substantial savings. On a weekly basis,
pay yourself $25-$50 and immediately put it in a safe
place. You can even open a special savings account where
this weekly "payday" can by placed to help minimize
or eliminate impulsive spending. Think about it this way,
if you paid yourself $25 a week, in two years you'll have
accumulated $2600 (not including interest)!!! That's almost
$3000 from just putting $25 aside every week! Take advantage
of this money-saving opportunity. Simple, yet very effective.
2. Don't Shop
For those of you that love to shop, you may find that
this is one tip that could save you hundreds, maybe even
thousands every year. Start using the "Need or Want"
strategy. Before you spend a single dollar on anything,
ask yourself, "Do I really NEED this item, or do
I just WANT it??" You may find that many of the items
we purchase, we do so just because it "caught our
eye" or it was "an impulse buy" or "my
friend bought the same thing". All these excuses
just add up to wasteful spending. You can probably get
by without another sweater, or a new pair of jeans, so
just buy what you absolutely need, and pass on those items
that aren't necessities.
3. Use Your Bank's Own ATMs
Some banks will charge you money for using other ATM machines.
Even though you will be able to withdraw money using your
ATM/debit card from literally any machine, banks will
charge you $2 (generally) for using a machine other than
theirs, in addition to a standard $1.50 charge the machine
charges for its use. In other words, if you use the ATM
at your local 7-11 to take out $20, you'll most likely
end up paying $3.50 in additional charges! If you do that
5 times a month, you'll lose $17.50 for that month, or
$210 per year! What a waste! Try and stick with your own
bank's ATMs whenever possible.
4. Track Your Spending
Take the time to track your spending habits for one week.
Take note of every single dollar you spend, even those
sodas and candy bars purchased here and there. This will
give you a "birds-eye" view of exactly where
your money is being spent, thus allowing you to refine
your spending habits to essentially save more money.
5. Lower Credit Card Balances
Another very important tip that many often overlook. Pay
off those pesky credit cards as soon as possible because
you are losing up to 19% of the total. What a waste of
your hard earned money! Keep chopping away at the balances
until you get to an amount that is reasonable $100-$500
6. Use Your Debit Card Instead of Credit Cards
Get in the habit of using your debit card instead of your
credit cards. For the most part, debit cards are accepted
anywhere a credit card is accepted, however as you know,
with a debit card the amount is taken directly from your
checking account whereas credit card usage is billed at
a later date (along with a hefty interest rate).
7. Changing Jobs? Roll-Over that 401(k)
When people change jobs/careers they will be faced with
a decision to either "rollover" their 401k (retirement
plan) or to withdraw it. It will be ever so tempting to
withdraw the money since it will be a substantial amount,
but don't! You will be charged fines and penalties for
an early withdrawal that will cut YOUR total by 40%-60%!
That's like giving half of your earned retirement savings
away to a stranger. Why would you do that? Even though
you may want the money now, resist the temptation and
roll it over. It will be well worth it in the long run.
8. Avoid Getting Too Many Credit Cards
Why have eight credit cards? That's just going to provide
you with more opportunities to go further into debt. It's
fine to keep 1-3 cards to build credit, establish yourself,
and for emergencies, but credit cards are double-edged
swords. They can help or hurt you depending on your self-control.
9. Check Your Credit Score/Report
It's important to know where you currently stand as a
consumer and since your credit report is the most important
historical list of your financial past and present, it's
a very good idea to check it from time to time. There
are a number of places where you can get your credit report,
however the most detailed compares information from the
top three national credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax,
and TransUnion. Once you get your report, look through
it carefully to see if all the information is accurate.
If there are any discrepancies, get those solved as quickly
as possible to improve your credit rating - a score of
up to 800. Often times, consumers are unaware of unsettled
accounts, or accounts that are still open/active when
they should be closed. Pay close attention to this when
inspecting your report.
**Get credit report tips, hints, and instant access by
10. Finally: Review - Revise - Retry
Once you start implementing these tips and become more
familiar with the money saving opportunities you have,
take the time to REVIEW your progress. Check and see where
it may be possible to REVISE some of your techniques or
where you can implement new ones. Once you have revised
your plan, RETRY to see if your results improve. The more
frequent you review, revise, and retry your saving ideas,
the more "in tune" you'll be with your finances
and spending habits, and learn what works and what doesn't
About the Author
Follow these 10 steps to improve your financial situation
and lower your overall debt. These steps are straightforward,
and ready to be implemented into your daily lifestyle.