How to Improve Your Finances In One Day

There are two types of people in this world: the spenders and the savers.

If you’re a saver, personal finance comes relatively easy. You likely enjoy saving as much money as you can. If you’re a spender, managing your personal finances is more challenging because you enjoy spending money. Yet, regardless of how you approach money, you need to take deliberate steps to ensure financial stability.

Some methods of improving your finances can be done quickly, like negotiating your insurance rates over your lunch break or writing  down a budget after dinner. However, there are other improvements you can make by setting aside one solid day to implement changes. To help you get going, here are 6 ways to positively impact your finances in one day.

Start an Emergency Fund

If you have read anything about personal finance, you know that having an emergency fund is essential. This will help you stay out of debt if the “bad” stuff happens.  Many people have these accounts with their bank and it’s easy to link them to your checking account. Some bank accounts, like Chime, take things a step further and offer automatic savings. Each time you make a purchase with your Chime card, the total will be rounded up to the nearest dollar and the difference will be transferred from your spending account to your Chime savings account.

The purpose of an emergency fund isn’t to grow your wealth but rather to protect it. Opening a new account doesn’t take long and it’s a great way to put money out-of-sight so you’re not tempted to spend it.

Once your account is open, make sure you continue to save so that you can build up your rainy day fund. This way the money will be available when you need it.

Consolidate Your Debt

If you have multiple debts, there is a good chance that you’re overspending on your interest charges. Consolidating won’t do anything to lower the principal, but it can help you eliminate your debt faster and reduce your interest rate.

There are multiple ways tof consolidate your debt in order to pay it off faster, but you’ll also want to exercise some caution. For example, debt consolidation companies may have high fees, which means you can end up paying back more than if you chose not to consolidate. In addition, a zero percent balance transfer card can give you interest free payments –  for a period of time. Eventually the period may run out, leaving you with even more interest to pay back.

Spend an afternoon looking at your options and evaluate personal loans and credit cards to consolidate debts. Then, crunch the numbers, seek expert advice, and determine the best option for you.

Create a Simple Business Plan

Coming up with a list of side jobs that could be profitable is an easy task. But, figuring out a job that works for you might take a bit longer. One thing is for certain: it helps to have a business plan.

To start, find the top two or three side hustles that you could implement in the next month. Spend an hour or two writing a simple business plan that addresses what it would take to get started. Ideally your side hustle should be flexible so that you can work some evenings, but not be stuck to a particular schedule. It should also capitalize on skills you already have.

Quit Spending Money

When you do a little research, you’ll discover that even top earners have money problems. Whether you make $25,000 a year or $125,000, the biggest issue with money is that you spend too much of it. Here’s the incredibly simple secret to staying financially fit: spend less money! Of course it does cost money to live, so let’s bring it back to reality.

Try to quit spending money for a day. For 24 hours, make coffee at home, eat lunch at your desk and refrain from shopping (not even for necessities). This is actually easier than you think and can result in big results over time.

Seal Up Your Home

Houses use a lot of energy. Older houses use even more. For example, I live in a house that was built in 1948. When I first moved in, some of the windows in the basement were original and others were replaced about 50 years ago. The result: the basement was incredibly cold in the winter.

During a recent remodel, I swapped out all of those old windows for some new energy efficient ones. When I was removing the old ones, I took the trim off and I could actually see through the gaps. A temporary solution would have been to caulk around the old windows to save energy costs, but the better solution was to replace them. In the long-run, this move will save me money on my heating bills.

Plan a Month of Meals

The average American spends $250 per month eating out. If you have a bigger family, this can easily increase to nearly $1,000 each month. Just think what you could do with this extra money if you ate at home for a solid month?

For a few hours, scour the internet, recipe books, and ask friends and family for simple meals you can cook at home. In the winter, you can even use a crock pot so you can eliminate the “I don’t have time” excuse. Come up with 30 meals, and commit to making them over the next month. Bonus: you may find that cooking is relaxing. It’s also often healthier than eating out.

Spend a Day to Save a Lot

Saving money is easy when you know how to do it. If you’re efficient, you could knock out a few of these six tips on a Saturday. It may not be glamorous now, but when you have an extra thousand dollars to spend on a dream vacation, you’ll be glad you spent a day reworking your finances.

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Sean Bryant

Sean Bryant created OneSmartDollar.com in 2011 to help pass along his knowledge of finance and economics to others. Sean has worked on the trade desk for a commodities brokerage firm, he was a project manager for an investment research company and was a CDO analyst at a big bank. When not working Sean and he wife are avid world travelers. He enjoys spending time with his daughter Colette and dog Charlie.