Have 30 Minutes? Here are 7 Ways to Improve Your Finances
I’m sure we’re all familiar with the old saying “Time is money,” right? Assuming the cliché holds true (and I’d wager it does in several circumstances at least), it seems fitting we discuss effective ways to improve your finances – all in 30 minutes or less.
That might strike you as gimmicky or even a bit unrealistic, particularly when it comes to your money and how you make it, spend it and save it – but trust me, a bit of financial fine tuning with a nod to time efficiency is well worth your… well, you know.
- Set up autopay on all your bills. If you haven’t done this yet, it’s way overdue. In this tech-savvy day and age, there’s really no excuse for not paying most if not all of your bills online. This method ensures you will never miss a due date, which not only results in late fees but can also negatively impact your credit score, both of which are huge No No’s when it comes to your financial health. You can set up autopay either directly through your bank to be paid from your checking account, or you can go to each bill’s website and arrange automatic payments through them directly. Either way you choose to go about it, it’s a sure bet for bill-paying peace of mind.
- Beef up your 401 (K) or retirement contributions. Taking into account that many Americans’ retirement funds are sorely lacking, this may be one of the best financial decisions you can quickly make. Before deciding, take a long hard look at your monthly expenses and income and determine if it’s feasible and, if so, how much extra you can contribute. If the numbers look doable, contact your financial advisor or company retirement rep to put your plan into action.
- Trim the fat. Have you ever taken the time to scrutinize how much you’re paying per month for services like magazine subscriptions, gym memberships, cable service or cell phone extras? If not, carve out 30 minutes to see exactly how much of your budget is dedicated to services you’re not really benefitting much from. In all likelihood there are lots of small yet unneeded expenses that will add up to modest or even significant savings once they’re scrapped.
- Check your credit score. Luckily doing this is easy and free and, of course, only takes a few minutes. What’s more, checking it no longer harms your credit score as was the case in the past now owing to the fact Americans are entitled to a free credit report check each year. Heck, even most credit cards offer to show you your score each month. Monitoring your score and report details is important for several reasons, including identifying and correcting any inaccuracies like misreported late payments, credit pulls you didn’t initiate or other lines of credit you didn’t open. Be sure to report anything you find amiss. However, if everything is in order, it still behooves you to be aware of where your credit score stands and what measures you can take to improve it.
- Audit your credit cards. Gather a few months’ worth of back statements and thoroughly familiarize yourself with anything and everything that’s contributing to your bottom line. How much is your monthly interest charge? Are you paying for unnecessary protection plans or other extras you don’t use or didn’t sign up for? (Don’t be naïve – it happens!) Do you have any unused rewards or account credits that you can cash in? Once that’s done, shop interest-free credit card offers or see if your current cards have any. Oftentimes these offers can be found online at your account home page. It’s well worth a look as a quick balance transfer to a low- or zero-interest credit card can amount to immediate savings. And remember, if you charge things – pay off your bill in full each month!
- Set up automatic savings. As early as your next payday, start siphoning off part of your paycheck to your savings account rather than into your primary spending account. Making this simple tweak could be as easy as a quick call to your company’s billing or human resources department or filling out some simple paperwork. Before you do, check your budget and determine an amount that works for you. Remember, money you can’t see is less likely to be spent.
- Collect your coins. Check your back pockets, your kids’ piggy bank (Sorry, not sorry!), scrounge the bottom of your purse, peek between your couch cushions, in short, search wherever you suspect spare change might be hiding. Gather it all up and head to your nearest coin-counting machine, often found in your neighborhood grocery store. The machine will easily and automatically add up your pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters and you will end up with an unexpected stash. The machine will convert the coins into a gift card for popular stores, saving you money at stores your regularly patronize. However, if you want to keep your cash, take your coins to a bank and have them sort, total and deposit the money for you.
Remember, whatever your financial goals, never underestimate the good you can make in a short amount of time, especially if you heed the advice I’ve laid out. If you need additional help sorting out your finances or making a workable budget to jump start your saving goals, contact the team here at American Credit Foundation for a free consultation. We’re here to help!