Most of us would like to start taking control of our finances in 2017. Whether you want to finally get rid of your student loans, start saving for your dream vacation or begin thinking about retirement, getting organized is the first step to start winning with money.
These tips will save you time, money and give you peace of mind as you work toward achieving financial freedom.
1. Change the way you think about the “b” word.
The word “budget” gets a bad rap because it is often viewed as being a restrictive tool. However, when used properly, a budget actually gives you freedom — the freedom to spend your money wisely. There are many mobile budgeting apps that you can link directly to your bank account to track your spending by category. However, when it comes to selecting a budgeting method, remember the adage, “don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.” I prefer to keep things simple with Google Sheets which is easily updated and accessible from anywhere.
2. Ditch the paper.
One of the biggest benefits of “going paperless” is that you can declutter your home. This method of staying organized also helps you to safeguard your personal information while saving you time. With paperless billing, you’ll no longer need to spend time shredding your billing statements or trying to stay on top of all your physical files and folders. Paperless billing helps save the environment, so think of it as doing a good deed each month.
3. Automate, automate, automate.
By switching to auto pay, you can avoid late or missing payments that result in fees and potentially hurt your credit score. Some companies will even reward you for using automatic payments. Recently, I set this up with my insurance company and saved $15 per month as a result. While this doesn’t sound like a huge amount, if you have several bills that are not currently on auto pay, this could add up to a few hundred dollars worth of savings per year. Challenge yourself to find 5 bills to automate this month. Be sure that you have enough funds in your account to cover these transactions. Otherwise, you might go into overdraft and/or incur a fee from the payee.
4. Pay yourself first.
The purpose of these tips is to help take the guesswork out of reaching your financial goals. You can easily arrange with your HR manager to have a fixed amount of your salary transferred into a savings account each month. It is probably best to allocate these funds to an account that you don’t plan on touching, that way you can start investing in your future. Alternatively, online banks like Chime allow you to conveniently set up an automatic funds transfer from your checking to a savings account.
This month, try to implement at least one of these methods. Reply in the comments to let us know how these tips are working for you.