Money Monday: Improve Your Finances in Just ONE Hour!
Much like we claim that tomorrow is the day we’ll better our diets and our physical health, when it comes to taking action to better our financial health, many of us promise: I’ll start tomorrow. Why not get on it today? Here are ten steps you can take - each that can be done in an hour or less - that could significantly improve your finances for the better – immediately. Sorry. No room for excuses now!
1. Switch Financial Institutions
Chances are, your bank is costing you more than you realize. Unnecessary and hidden fees and charges, a lack of competitive interest rates, and lower dividends on savings can quickly add up to a ton of money lost. Research your best option – which will likely be a credit union – by comparing rates, fees, dividends, convenience, and other factors important to you, and make the switch today. Residing in NE Indiana? Find out what 3Rivers can do for you!
2. Fund a Savings Account with Direct Deposit
Is your entire paycheck being directly deposited into your checking account? Time to make a switch there, too. You can decide how to split up your paycheck and how much money goes where. Sending even a small amount per check into a savings account will work wonders, as it gains interest for sitting in that account. Over the course of time, you'll be making money and likely hardly notice that a little here and a little there is “missing” from your checking.
3. Comparison Shop Your Insurance
At least once every year or two, make sure you’re properly insured and getting the best deal on insurance. Take a few minutes to research and contact alternate insurance companies to make sure you're getting the most out of yours. During the course of your research, you may discover that you can lower your insurance premiums - often by several dollars!
4. Reduce Your Credit Card Interest Rate
Set aside an hour to ensure that you’ve got the credit card best suited for you. Compare rates, fees, and reward options. If you’d rather not make a switch, but you find that you're paying a rather high interest on your credit card compared to other options, take note: You might be able to get your rate lowered – as long as you’re in good standing with your payments and have been for some time, and are willing to call your credit card issuer to get the conversation started!
5. Comparison Shop Credit Cards
If you're unable to get your current credit card interest rate lowered, then research other options. Once you find a credit card option that better suits you, transfer your balance and enjoy the savings!
6. Lower Your Monthly Bills
Figure out whether or not you're getting the best deal on your cellphone, cable, and Internet costs. Companies are constantly offering special deals, packages, and discounts. Give your current provider a call and ask what specials they’re currently running, then ask if you can take advantage as a long-term, valued customer. Many providers also offer price-matching, so if you see a better rate elsewhere, let them know. If they don’t budge, then it might be time to move on!
7. Lower Your Monthly Bills Even More
If you're not using it - ditch it. Unlimited texting plan but only ever make phone calls? Adjust your plan. Is your once-favorite magazine now gathering dust in the unread mail pile? Time to cancel the subscription. Determine what's costing you lots of money for little to no reason, and say, “adios!”
8. Learn One Thing
Even financial gurus have one financial term or process they don't fully comprehend or aren't totally comfortable with. Whatever the financial term, phrase, or process you might be unsure of, take an hour and really dive into researching and understanding what it means and how you can best tackle or utilize it. Financial freedom comes with feeling comfortable and knowledgeable about your money matters – not hiding from them.
9. Set Up an IRA or Contribute to Your 401(K)
It’s never too early to start planning for retirement. As for these funds - a little pre-taxed money from your paycheck goes in each month and gains interest or your employer matches a percentage of what you put in. What this means is that you'll gain interest more quickly, across more time, than with other savings accounts. Find out what your employer's 401(K) plan looks like, and determine whether that or an IRA at your financial institution works best for you. Then, start contributing!
10. Find Your Biggest Money Drain + Plug It
"I just don't know where it all goes!" Ah yes, the greatest money-related question of all-time. Time to buckle down and find out where your hard-earned cash is going, then fix it. One way to do this is through shoebox budgeting - saving every documentation of income and expenditure to determine how much money you have coming in and how much you have going out (even if you buy a pack of gum with leftover quarters, you need to document it!) Shocked to find how much you’re spending on vending machine lunches? Now you know, and you can start brown-bagging it. Be brutally honest and you’ll be able to catch and cut bad spending habits.
Thanks to LearnVest for these tips!
So, make a few of these smart and quick money moves during your next Netflix marathon or on your lunch break - and watch your savings grow!