Whether your goals include traveling, funding education, purchasing a home or retiring comfortably, taking a few actions to improve your financial well-being in the next few months can lead to significant strides toward your goals. Here are 15 smart money decisions that you can make today.
15 Ways to Be Smart with Your Money
And stick to it! Budgeting is about determining your priorities and honoring those priorities. It may also be enlightening to determine your “survival number” — the monthly costs of just your essentials, like housing, food, healthcare, utilities, etc. — to help inform you of how you can balance saving and spending.
2. Build Your Savings
If the last few years has taught us anything, it’s that we can’t predict the future. If you don’t have 3-6 months of your expenses saved, you should make that a priority. If you have a savings account, consider switching to a high-yield savings account where you can earn more in interest.
3. Max Out Your Match
If your company-sponsored retirement plan (such as a 401(k) or 403(b)) includes a match from your employer, always take full advantage of that. It’s free money!
4. Review Your Subscriptions
Do you have cable but also pay for multiple streaming services? Are you still getting a clothing subscription box but have nowhere to wear your new threads? You may be able to cancel some subscription services to save money.
5. Pay off Debt
Paying off your high-interest debt as soon as you can will make a huge difference. Interest payments take a significant chunk out of your wallet — and that’s money that doesn’t do anything to serve your future interests.
6. Plan Your Meals
From a purely financial perspective, not only will this keep you on track at the grocery store, it will also help you avoid going out to eat or calling for delivery because you’re not sure what you have at home.
Utilize thrift stores (in-person and online) to buy and to sell. Look for refurbished electronics when you buy and be sure to trade-in or sell your old electronics when you upgrade. Consider building a capsule wardrobe of timeless basics to avoid continuously shopping for trendy clothes that will go out of style in a few months.
8. Review Your Will
While you won’t directly benefit from this financially, you can rest easy knowing your wishes are known and your loved ones are cared for.
9. Put Pay Increases Toward Retirement
Unless you aren’t able to make ends meet, it’s unlikely that a 2% increase in your salary will make much difference in your day-to-day. However, when you take into account compounding interest, putting that $1,000 a year pay increase toward retirement is one of the best money moves to make — and can pay off big later in life.
10. Conduct Regular Maintenance
Taking care of your home appliances and vehicles will save on costly repairs down the road. A $20 filter or $100 repair could extend the lives of your costly machinery and appliances.
11. Open a 529 Plan
If you have kids, start saving for education expenses early. The cost of secondary education is increasing every year. To prepare your children for success, start saving now.
12. Meet with a Financial Advisor
Reviewing your portfolio regularly with a financial professional ensures that you’re working toward your goals in a way that best fits you.
13. Explore Free Resources
Like your local library, and double check benefits of your membership organizations. You might be surprised that your insurance company provides discounts to hotel chains or your membership to your local museum also gets you into the historical society for free.
14. Institute Regular No-Spend Days
Pick one day a week to commit to not spending any money. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is — and how much you can save!
15. Ask for Help
Connecting with a financial advisor may be the best thing you can do for your financial future because they can help you build on your strengths and overcome your weaknesses when it comes to planning for your goals.