While we all aspire to financial greatness, the reality is that most of middle-class America struggles to make ends meet. However, improving your finances doesn’t have to be difficult or take years to do. You can do a number of things to make an instant impact on your finances without being too radical. The following are three things everyone can do to improve their finances with minimal effort and stress.
How many of you actually take the time to make a budget and stick to it? The key to budgeting is to know exactly how much you must spend each month on fixed expenses such as rent or a mortgage, utility bills and phone bills. Then you need to find out where the rest of your money goes for things like food, clothing, gas, entertainment and so on.
Once you know what you spend, see where you can start saving by cutting out things you don’t really need, such as an extra cable box or a magazine subscription. When you realize how much you spend on food or other items, you may see ways to bring costs down, such as eating at home instead of eating out.
Need help creating and sticking to a budget? Checkout our detailed approach to creating and sticking to a budget.
2. Pay Off Debt and Improve Your Credit
Once you have your budget set, you can focus on paying off debts that are draining your finances, such as credit card debt. This also has the bonus of improving your credit score. If you make regular payments and are never late, your credit score might already be in good shape, but having credit card debt is never a good idea, so you should get rid of it if you can.
The best way to get rid of debt is to always pay more than the minimum and to pay as little interest as possible. If you have more than one credit card with debt, consider transferring all the balances to a low- or no-interest credit card. With little to no interest, and by making larger payments, you can whittle down your debt in no time, leaving you more disposable income for spending or saving. Overwhelmed by the amount of debt you carry? Consider debt consolidation.
After you’ve successfully followed steps 1 and 2, you can allocate some of your extra cash toward a savings account or retirement fund. Once you have enough savings to cover you in an emergency, you can consider investing the rest.
By starting and sticking to the above habits, you’ll notice a large improvement in your financial situation in very little time.