I recently came across a survey that said 72% of Americans believe they’ll be better off financially next year.
Personally, I hope everyone is right, but realistically I doubt that will happen.
Why? Because people only hope.
They don’t do one simple thing that will end up helping them to make themselves better off financially.
Here’s what you need to do to make sure you actually put yourself in a better financial position next year.
Take Action To Improve Your Finances
Hoping is great, but it doesn’t get anything accomplished.
Instead of simply wishing things would get better, you need to take action to improve your financial situation.
If you’ve never taken a hard look at your finances, chances are there are many easy things you can do to get yourself moving to a better financial situation.
Here are five simple things you can do to help improve your finances almost immediately.
Cut Easy Expenses
Cutting expenses seems hard at first. Luckily, once you take a look at your spending there are usually some easy expenses you can cut.
First, look for recurring subscriptions that you don’t use anymore. Cancel them. That was easy!
Next, take a look at your other recurring expenses such as cable, cell phones, internet, car insurance, homeowners insurance, etc. Find the top five recurring expenses and see if you can find a better price.
Whether you decide to negotiate with your current provider or switch to a new provider, you could easily save hundreds if not thousands of dollars per year by doing this and it will only take a few hours of your time.
Earn More Money
Income is on the other side of the equation. If you haven’t been trying to increase your income, you could really be doing yourself a major disservice. You could work to show that you deserve a raise at work throughout the coming year.
Alternatively, if you’re being paid under market value, try to get bumped up to the current going rate or consider finding a new higher paying job.
Of course, work isn’t the only place to make more money. You could easily start a side hustle such as freelance writing, blogging, taking photos or making items to sell online on craft websites.
It may take a while to get your side hustle off the ground, but you’d be diversifying your income which can help in case you ever face an unwelcome spell of unemployment.
One of my favorite big wins is automating savings. It is so easy but so very few people do it.
Simply set up an automatic transfer from your checking account to your savings account one day after each payday. Most banks make this easy to do.
The awesome part is you’ll be paying yourself first. Since you won’t see the money in your checking account, you’ll be less likely to spend it which will definitely help you improve your finances.
If you don’t want to deal with automatic bank transfers, many companies will allow you to direct deposit a portion of your check into a savings account and the rest to your checking account. Check with your human resources department for more details.
Make Extra Payments On Debt
Debt sucks because it slowly sucks away your money at a rate which isn’t initially alarming. However, as debt adds up, you realizes a large chunk of your money goes toward paying interest every month.
Personally, I avoid as much debt as possible other than a reasonable mortgage.
Luckily, by making extra payments on your debt you can wipe it out faster than by simply making minimum payments and you’ll save a ton of money on interest in the process. To do this, simply make extra payments above your normal minimum payment with most loans.
I would start making extra payments on the debt with the highest interest rate first to get the most bang for your extra debt payment dollar.
To accelerate the process even more, make sure to make an extra payment after each payday rather than just once a month when you make your normal payment.
Increase Retirement Contributions
If you don’t have debt, or you only have a reasonable low interest rate mortgage, you can increase your retirement contributions to help secure your future. Unless you’re saving over half of your income for retirement, chances are you could be saving more.
If you have a work retirement plan, such as a 401(k), simply increase your contribution percentage if you haven’t hit the annual maximum contribution.
Some plans even let you set up automatic increases that happen every year. I highly suggest this so you don’t forget to increase your retirement contribution percentage next year.
If you don’t have a work retirement plan, simply increase the amount of money you set aside each month. If you’ve already maxed out all of your retirement account options available to you, nothing says you can’t invest even more in a taxable investment account.
Just Take Action – You’ll Thank Yourself Later
Hoping your finances will get better next year is a nice thought, but just hoping won’t get you on the path to a better financial future. Do yourself a favor and take action to start pushing your finances in the right direction.
Just following a few of the simple ideas above could potentially save you hundreds or thousands of dollars a year with very little effort. Get started today. Your future self will thank you.
What are some other easy financial changes you can make today that will be a huge win for your future self? Let me know your ideas in the comments below!
Photo by: Zach Dischner Text added by: Lance Cothern