It’s common to want to look the other way when we’re faced with dealing with our finances. It’s not a very exciting task for most people. And some people are outright scared to look at their finances, afraid they’ll discover a mess. But today I want to challenge you to dive right in there and make some progress. To give you a bit of guidance and to lessen the stress of this challenge, I’ve provided some steps you can take today that will quickly help to improve your finances.
Here are the Top 10 Ways to Improve Your Bottom Line:
1. Discover Your Personal Net Worth: Major corporations are judged by their financial ratios. One of the most important is their net worth (assets minus debts). Take a moment to calculate your own net worth. Subtract all your debts (mortgage, credit cards, car loan) from your assets (home value, cash, savings, car value). Hopefully you’ll discover a positive number. Search online for average net worth by age listings to compare your net worth to others. This exercise will give you a good understanding of your financial situation, and will hopefully motivate you to increase your net worth.
2.Stop Paying for the Stuff You Don’t Need: A big factor in your personal net worth is your ability to spend less than you earn. To decrease the amount you spend, I recommend you first take a look at your monthly expenses and see if there is anything there you don’t use. Find one or two items that you can eliminate. When I did this exercise for the first time, the first thing to go was my home phone line. Wasn’t using it. Didn’t need it.
3. Pay Less for the Things You Want Now take the rest of your expenses and see if there is a way you can pay less for them. Obviously you can’t instantly lower your mortgage. But you could possibly lower things like insurance and cable TV simply by calling and asking. Other expenses, like food can be lowered by using coupons and asking more for discounts.
4. Create a Simple, Better Budget Instead of building out a big budget on all your expenses. Simply take 3 or 4 spending categories that you have the most flexibility with (e.g. dining out expense), and set a budget amount for the month. You’ll only need to worry about tracking these 3 or 4 categories, and can focus your energies where it matters most.
5. Earn More with Your Savings High yield online savings accounts are now paying interest up to 6 times the national average on regular savings accounts. It’s quick to open up an account with one of these banks. The funds are FDIC insured and usually come with no fees or minimums. If you’ve got $1,000 or more lying around in a normal savings account, it’s time to get with the times and move those funds to a place where you can earn a bit of money with your savings. At a minimum you’ll be able to keep up with inflation.
6. Fix Credit Report Errors Visit annualcreditreport.com (the only place to get your truly free credit report) and view your credit reports from the three bureaus. Make note of all the errors on the reports. If you find some major errors (debts that aren’t yours, late payments you didn’t know about, etc.) call up the bureau and find out how to get the error fixed. Doing so will likely help to improve your credit score. Which in turn will help you to get better rates on insurance and loan rates.
7. Lower Your Interest Rates If you have high interest credit card debt, call up your credit card company and request that your rate be lowered. Have a competitors rate handy to negotiate. This trick can literally save you hundreds if you have a lot of debt. And all it takes is a phone call.
8. Open a Roth IRA If you haven’t started saving for your retirement, or you want something to supplement what your doing with your company 401k, the Roth IRA is the perfect fit. Earnings from the funds invested in your Roth IRA can be withdrawn in retirement tax free. It’s easy to open a Roth IRA too. You can open one quickly at a bank, a mutual fund company, or with one of the online discount brokers.
9. Get a Quote on Life Insurance Lastly, if someone else depends on your income, you should strongly consider life insurance. For most people this is the last area of focus regarding their finances. But it’s a very important area. I’m not going to pretend you could get insurance in a day. It’s a long, drawn-out process. But you could get a quote and get the process started today.
Hopefully this gives you some good ideas and you’re encouraged to get started improving your finances. Do something today!
This guest post was written by PT Money: Personal Finance by PT.