Improving Your Finances in Less than 4 Hours
by CashTime Loan Centers
Does the current state of your finances seem hopeless? Does the thought of saving money make you quake? Do you feel as though there’s just no way you’ll ever be able to have a healthy credit score, large savings account, robust emergency fund, or extra money just to have fun with? What would you say if someone told you that you could actually improve your finances in the next four hours? It might sound like an impossible dream, but it isn’t. We’d like to show you a few simple steps you can take today to improve your financial picture.
Organize your finances. Before you say, “That’s just too overwhelming!” we suggest you think of your finances as you would the proverbial kitchen junk drawer; it may seem like a disorganized mess, but you know that there are valuable items tangled up together in there! You’ve been meaning to straighten things out, but just haven’t gotten around to it. Make today the day you take the plunge and organize your finances. It probably won’t be as hard as you think. It might even be easier than tackling that junk drawer!
One easy first step you can take to start organizing your finances is to raise your credit score. Not sure what it is? You can order a free copy of your credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com, the only official site explicitly directed by Federal law to provide every consumer with a free copy of their credit report once a year. There are other sites where you can obtain a copy of your report, but there are often hidden costs. This site is sponsored by Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, which are the three major consumer credit reporting agencies, and the three step process to request your credit report from each agency is easy, taking just a few minutes. Since credit reports may affect your credit card approvals, mortgage rates, apartment requests, or even your job application, not knowing what’s on yours could be having a negative impact on your life. Once you receive your reports, compare the information on each one. If there are errors, each agency has clear steps to dispute them, and once any errors are verified and removed from your report, your score gets a boost.
Consolidate your debts. Do you have several credit card balances, student loans, or other debts with high interest rates? Refinancing your debt could substantially reduce payments you’re already making and help you save money each month. Take a few minutes to talk to your bank or credit union representative, or search online for a debt consolidation loan to bring these debts under one umbrella. If you are simply looking at loan options, your credit score won’t be affected. If you are paying over 20% in interest, you may be able to save a significant amount of money every month by consolidating your debt and paying less interest.
Track your spending. There are several free budgeting apps you can download to track your spending and help you stay on budget. Most apps can connect directly to your bank account and record purchases so that you always know what you’re spending in any given category. One of the first things most people do as a result of tracking their spending is to cut back on impulse buys. This instantly keeps more money in your pocket, which you can then designate as savings, debt paydown, or use for another purpose.
Make your savings difficult to access. If you can get to your savings easily, you might be tempted to transfer money from your savings account to your checking account more often than you should. By saving money that you can’t reach through automation, it makes withdrawing those funds more difficult. Consider opening a savings account in a different bank, perhaps even one without a branch near your home or work. You can set up a direct deposit so that money is deposited in the account every paycheck, but don’t link it to your checking account or make it available without making a trip to the bank. The lack of convenient access may be all it takes to see that account balance grow quickly.
Set up measurable goals. Set some reasonable, metric-based goals for yourself that are achievable. If you are deeply in debt, you probably didn’t get there overnight, and it will take some time and a lot of hard work to gain your total financial freedom, but it can be done. Remember, you’re just organizing the junk drawer, not remodeling the entire kitchen. Set short term goals with rewards attached that motivate you along the way. Break down your debt into “bite sized pieces” and celebrate your successes. If you want to save $100 per month to start, set a goal to save $25 per week. If that still seems too difficult, break it down to $5 per day, Monday through Friday and it suddenly becomes as simple as skipping a fancy coffee one day and bringing lunch from home on another day. Once you are successful in achieving smaller goals, the larger goals become achievable as well.
Avoid temptation. If you don’t know it’s out there, you won’t want to buy it. If you are subscribed to email newsletters that tempt you with goods or services you think you just can’t live without (even though you can’t afford them), unsubscribe! Every newsletter has the option to unsubscribe from their mailing list (usually at the very bottom of the email in tiny print, but it’s there!) so take advantage of it and opt out! Don’t torture yourself looking at and thinking about items you can do without while you’re working your way out of debt. Once you can pay cash, you can always go back and purchase something if you plan for it.
There are just six simple steps you can take, that each only take a few minutes to do, to improve your finances today, in less than four hours.