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Money Monday: 8 Small Steps for Big Financial Gain

We’ve all experienced major burnout when taking drastic strides and reaching for unrealistic expectations in order to improve our lives in one area or another. In most cases, we learn that baby steps really are the way to go if we want to see major, long-term results. Same goes for your finances. Start small, and watch all of those little changes in your financial habits add up over time.

8 Small Steps for Big Financial Gain | Image source: Shutterstock.com / Photographer: Sergey Nivens

Try these eight small, but mighty tips and you'll gradually see some major, positive changes when it comes to your money matters.

Open a Separate Savings Account

Create multiple accounts to help limit yourself from withdrawing too much from your savings. You can set up accounts for emergency funds, holiday shopping funds, or just typical old savings. You can very slowly build on these by adding a little extra change here and there or splitting your direct deposit or automatic money transfers to place a bit of your income into them. Vow not to touch that extra account and watch your money grow. | View 3Rivers savings options.

Set Up an Automated Transfer

Again, you have the option to alter your direct deposit to send portions of your paycheck to different accounts, or simply set up an automatic transfer of funds from one account to another. Doing this ensures that at least some of your income is dedicated to savings. Plus, automatic transfers will save you the time, wait, and headache that can come with having to remember to relocate funds on a bi-weekly or monthly basis.

Bring Your Lunch to Work

The average American, who goes out for lunch on their work break, spends $1,000 or more a year on their midday meal. Not only will you save money by brown-bagging it, you can enjoy healthier and more fulfilling meals. | Cheap and healthy lunch ideas.

Just Add 1%

Every six months, add 1% of your gross income to your retirement savings. (Month one, 1%, month two, 2%, month three, 3%, and so on.) After a few years, you'll reach the maximum amount that's allowed to be contributed, without feeling like you've been robbed! | More about retirement savings.

Track Your Spending for One Month

Find out exactly where your money is going and then you can do something about saving more of it. Try a shoebox budget - that is, request and hang on to every single receipt for a month - even if it's for a 50 cent pack of gum. Then, after the month is up, pull them all out and have a look - how much is going to the necessities (rent, utilities, loan payments) and where is the rest being spent? From there, you'll have the knowledge you need to create a monthly budget. | How to create a budget.

Use a Rewards Card Wisely

If you've got an airline rewards card or retail rewards card, be sure to use it wisely. Spend within your means and stay on top of making payments, then utilize the benefits. Should you decide to go this route, make sure the card offers something that is meaningful and useful to you and your lifestyle. | Learn more about 3Rivers card options.

Set Reminders

You think it's sunk in by now - you've made that same student loan payment on the 15th of every month for years. But then life happens and you're several days late. If you don't care for the idea of automatic mobile or Online Bill Pay, then make sure you're setting reminders for key financial dates (payday, money transfer day, bills due, file taxes, etc.) Staying on top of your payments is great for your accounts, your credit score and credibility, and your stress levels. | Try these free reminder tools.

Move Your Savings to a Credit Union

The credit union difference can have a huge, positive impact on your finances! Because credit unions are member-owned, they are able to offer lower rates and fees, higher dividends on savings, and an all-around better experience. Plus, there's a culture and a trust that you get when doing business with a local financial institution that you just can't find anywhere else. | More about the credit union difference. What small financial steps have you taken that have paid off in big ways? Share them in the Comments section below!

Tips from Lifehacker.
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