Whether you’re stuck in a cycle of debt, earning too little to maintain your annual standard of living, or simply wanting to start saving for a major financial goal like buying your first home or investing, you may need help getting started. Follow these tips to take charge of your finances.
Read Books About Personal Finance
Reading a book about finances can help give you the power to change.
If you need help with your finances but aren’t sure where to start, seek financial wisdom from books written by experts.
Several books are available on the topic of managing ones finances, from reducing your debt to building an investment portfolio. These books may help you change your approach to managing money.
To boost your savings, you can buy used financial books online or borrow them for free at your local library. Consider audiobooks if you would rather receive the advice by ear.
If you’re having difficulty managing your finances, you probably need a budget—a plan for how to spend your money each month, based on how much you typically earn and spend. Making a budget is the best way to clean up your finances.
To start, write down your income and all your expenses, and then subtract the expenses from the income to determine your discretionary spending. At the start of each month, set up a budget to allocate how discretionary funds get spent. Track the spending over the course of the month, and at the end of the month, determine whether you stuck to the budget.
If you spent more than you made, you can fix your budget by cutting unnecessary expenses or, if possible earning more. Implement the revised budget the next month to start living within your means.
Reduce Monthly Bills
While you may not be able to reduce certain fixed expenses, such as rent or a car payment, without drastically altering your lifestyle, you can reduce variable expenses, such as clothing or entertainment, by being flexible and thinking frugally.
You can, for example, reduce electricity consumption to lower your utility costs, choose different providers for your home or life insurance, or buy your food at a discount at bulk stores.
Can cutting cable save you money?
You could likely cut one monthly bill right now and possibly financial future save hundreds each month: your cable bill. If you need a little help managing your finances or just want to meet your financial goals more quickly, consider cutting cable.
You don’t even have to give up TV altogether. “Cutting the cord,” that is, eliminating costly cable services in favor of low-cost streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu, allows you to watch the shows you love without spending a ton eYou can save some money by downgrading your cable package to a package with fewer channels if, after reviewing streaming options, you still feel you would rather stick with your cable provider.
If, after reviewing various streaming options, you’re still determined to stick with your cable provider, downgrade to a cable package with fewer channels to save a little money every month.
Stop Eating Out
Take the challenge to stop eating out for a mThere is no need to give up TV altogether. By “cutting the cord” , that is, switching from expensive cable to cheaper streaming options such as Netflix or Hulu, you can watch your favorite shows for a fraction of the price.onth.
Want to lower your monthly variable expenses? Try cutting back your out-of-home meals. The occasional splurge at your favorite restaurant is fine; however, the savings add up if you cook at home or bring lunches to work rather than eating out every day.
Get the ball rolling by cooking at home at least once a week. A week after that, try brown-bagging it to work and you’ll be surprised by how much you can save. A 40-year career can save you $50,000 if you brown-bag it.1
Plan a Monthly Menu
If the idea of cooking every night is off-putting to you, plan a monthly menu to make it less intimidating. The advantage of planning meals for the entire month is that you can chop foods or cook meals in batches. This approach also makes it easier to shop for groceries and ensures that you waste less food because you will most likely use all the ingredients you buy while they are still fresh.
One alternative is to use a menu-planning service such as eMeals or PlateJoy to take the effort out of shopping and cooking altogether. These services allow you to choose recipes and have a list of the necessary ingredients sent to your local grocery store for fast pick-up.
However, these services cost money, so you’ll need to evaluate the cost and determine whether it fits into your budget.
Pay Off Your Debt
Pay off your debt to get control of your future.
If you wish to enhance your financial position and improve your financial circumstances, then you should pay your debts as soon as possible. Especially if you carry high-interest credit card debt.
Get a list of all your current debt, whether it’s a car loan, a credit card, or student loan debt, and work out how much you must pay each month in order to remain in compliance.
so evaluate your fixed expenses, and determine how much of your discretionary spending budget you can allocate toward debt repayment.
Try to reduce the interest rate on the debt by asking the issuer for a lower rate, consolidating multiple debts into one, or transferring high-interest debt to a low-interest credit card, such as a balance-transfer card. Then, set up a debt-payment plan, and adopt sound spending habits to pay off the debt as quickly as possible.
so assess your fixed expenses, and determine where you have the discretionary funds to put toward debt repayment.
Stop Using Your Credit Cards
If you are struggling to make ends meet each month, you may be relying too much on your credit cards. If you keep using your credit cards as a stop-gap measure to make ends meet, you’ll quickly wind up in debt. That will limit how much money you have each month to pay bills, save for retirement, or work toward another financial goal.
If you really want to take control of your finances, stop using your credit cards. In addition to setting up a budget so that you don’t have to buy things on credit, switch to cash or debit cards to avoid accruing more debt; open a
short-term savings account, and draw from it for large expenses; or leave your credit card at home so that you’re never tempted to pull it out of your pocket and swipe it.
Manage Your Student Loans
Is your student loan breaking the bank? LearnYou should stop using your credit cards if you’re serious about managing your money. In addition to setting up a budget so that you don’t have to buy things on credit, switch to cash or debit cards to avoid debt. how much it's actually costing you.
Whether you should have your student loans refinance or consolidated, see if you qualify for a student loan forgiveness program, or add them to your debt-payment plan, getting control of your student loans is an excellent step to take right now to improve your finances.
You don’t have to drastically step up your loan-repayment schedule, either; by paying half your student loan amount every two weeks, you will make a full extra payment every year. Some lenders will even reduce your interest rate by around 0.25% when you sign up to make automatic loan payments.2