26 Sneaky Ways to Improve Your Finances

I love money. I love saving it and spending it. I have a tendency to hoard it, as well. But my love of gadgets and expensive electronics usually wins out in the end.

I was Stumbling a minute ago and my husband Butch had sent me this article, 35 Sneaky Ways to Improve Your Finances. I thought I'd share my favorites from the list with you, with my own interpretation of them.

1. Don't get into debt in the first place. NO KIDDING! But no one ever mentions this! Save up for large purchases, and never use your credit card unless you can pay it off at the end of the month. Common Sense!

2. Pay yourself first. My husband loves this one. But there's truth to it. Save 10% off the top every paycheck. Have a direct transfer to a savings account, or to your financial advisor, such as Edward Jones. Pay into your 401K, the maximum you can contribute.

3. Make extra debt payments. Check your mortgage and credit card documentation carefully first, but if there's no penalty, then make extra payments. It really cuts down on the interest you'll have to pay in the long run.

4. Live beneath your means. Another common sense one, but oh so helpful if you can force yourself. If you think you need something, really put thought into the differentiation between NEED and WANT. If it's simply a Want, consider taking that money and investing it in something really useful. You'll thank yourself later.

5. Direct Deposit your earnings. Cash will burn a hole in your pocket. And if you direct deposit, you can also have a portion transferred immediately to savings. You won't notice the transferred money, but it will grow over time effortlessly.

6. Ignore your raise. Congratulations on that raise, now as soon as it takes effect, take the extra income to pay off debt, save for a rainy day, or save for retirement or college.

7. Downgrade things you don't use anymore. Got a membership to a fancy gym that you never use? Or do you never come close to your minutes on your phone? Do you really watch all those premium channels? Cut back on these kinds of expenses to save without impacting your lifestyle too much.

8. Sell what you don't need. For instance I have tons of books that I am never going to be interested in again. I can sell them on eBay or through Amazon and make some spare cash. De-clutter while creating a bit of money for yourself. So go through the house and get rid of old gadgets, clothes, toys, etc.

9. Never a borrow nor a lender be. (the original list says keep a black book and ask for your money back. But I humbly disagree). Don't lend it and don't borrow it. It's not worth it. I know this sounds cold, but it only leads to resentment and trouble, especially among family and friends. If you do decide to help someone out financially, write that money off and never expect it back again. If you get paid back, consider it a bonus.

10. Weatherproof your home. Insulate doors, windows, attics and garage doors. The small outlay of money to do this is made up with smaller heating and cooling bills all year long.

11. Use a digital thermostat. Get the kind that can be programmed so that you change the temperature when you are either sleeping or not home. The formula for savings is 3% of your bill for each degree that you change your thermostat.

12. Plant trees in your yard. Deciduous trees chosen correctly for your climate will provide shade in the summer to lower cooling costs. In winter they will lose their leaves and let in the sun.

13. Switch to compact fluorescent bulbs. Don't skimp, though. I've found that cheap CFs don't last very long. Get the name brand. It's worth it. The consumption of electricity is significantly lower. Also, Mythbusters proved that it's much cheaper to turn the light off when you leave the room, every time. So turn it off when you're not using it. This helps the environment as well.

14. Cook your own meals at home. Pack a lunch. This one isn't only better for your wallet, it's much better for your body. Learn some good nutrition and make your own lunches. Eat at home for healthier, much more affordable meals. Plus you'll know exactly what's on your plate.

15. Plan ahead. Keep a rainy day fund. If you want a vacation or have a big purchase in mind, start saving for it today. Plan ahead for gift giving, holidays, birthdays, car and home maintenance, etc. Why pay interest on a credit card for these purchases if you know they're coming? Instead put your money into an interest bearing account and actually be rewarded for saving.

16. Identify your debt. Write down on paper or in a spreadsheet, exactly how much you owe to whom, and the interest rate you're paying. Pay off the highest interest rates first. You'll save a significant amount of money on interest this way.

17. A necessity list. This is a great idea. Write a list of things you really have to have, like that new gadget, those cute shoes, that hot new golf set, whatever it might be. Make yourself wait a month. Check back a month later and see if you still have an unbearable craving for the item. Chances are it was a passing impulse that you would have been bored with in less than a month anyway.

18. Like-minded people. Find groups or clubs of like minded people to hang out with. Such as a finance group, or a get out of debt club. You might make some friends and learn new stuff and enjoy fun affordable activities that you'd never thought of before.

19. The last model, not the latest. Personally I love having the latest and greatest in computers and gadgets. But these things depreciate so fast, do I really need it? Look at the previous model, which probably is only a few months old, and get that instead. You'll pay a lot less for something that is still great and new.

20. Shop smart. Avoid overpriced stores and shop around before you make big purchases. Check out different places online to see what the average price is. Don't forget to factor in taxes and shipping as well. I still find that I can get better prices online in most circumstances than buying from a big name brand store where everything is marked up exceedingly high.

21. The Latte Principle. Stop buying that candy bar in the vending machine, as well as those 3 sodas every day. Don't stop and get that fattening latte that costs an arm and a leg every morning. Instead put that money aside and invest it. I wrote a short article on this Here. From the article, here's an example: Your $5 cappuccino sacrifice will save you $25 in one work week, which equals $100 in a month and a whopping $1200 a year! At a conservative 7% interest rate of return, you're saving a significant amount of money by making your coffee at home.

22. Have a monetary goal. Write it down and put it where you can see it. Whether it's for retirement, college, vacation, a great new car, or whatever you are aiming for, define your goal clearly. This will help you stay motivated and focused.

23. Save your change. Do you think it doesn't add up? It does. Ask your bank if they have a coin machine, like mine does, because it's free and easy to have them count it and add it right to your account.

24. Car tips. Insist on great gas mileage on your next car. Think diesel, bio-diesel, or just a gas car with great fuel consumption. Carpool if possible. Do all your errands at once, and plan out your trip to reduce driving. Keep your tires properly inflated and have your oil changed when appropriate to keep your car running well. Also make sure your air filter is clean. This will also make a difference.

25. Avoid Temptation. Don't go to the mall where you might be tempted to spend money impulsively. Keep a healthy snack in your car, in your briefcase or purse so you can avoid fast food.

26. Get rid of addictions. This may seem boring, but your addictions to tobacco, drugs, alcohol, gambling, soda pop and junk food cost a great deal to your wallet, health and time.

So there you go, the revised list of 26 ways to save money and get out of debt while living a good and happy life.

See the original article here.

1 comment:

  1. Nadia...

    I always enjoy coming to this site because you offer great tips and advice for people like me who can always use a few good pointers. I will be getting my friends to pop around fairly soon....