The following is a guest post, courtesy of Steve Repak, CFP®, author of ‘6 Week Money Challenge For Your Personal Finances.’
If you feel that your finances are on life support and you have little hope of the situation improving, I want to you to provide you with a little ray of sunshine by showing you 4 easy ways to jump-start your finances.
Start Giving More
I know what you are thinking, how can you jump-start your finances if you are giving your money away! Truth be told, getting onto a healthier path with your finances has less to do with knowing what to do and more with doing what you know. If you truly believe that God is able to provide for your needs, then you acknowledge that by giving back to God. If you truly believe it is better to give than to receive, once again, you demonstrate that by giving to others that are less fortunate. Your money attitudes are crucial so by learning to give first, you will have no choice but to learn to live on less and that is the cornerstone of personal finance!
Start Tracking Your Spending
There is no secret that people who don’t run out of money at the end of the month are the ones who spend less than they make. Keeping a spending journal for two weeks can really make a big difference in your spending patterns. I think most of us know how much we make; the problem is that many of us have no idea exactly what we are spending each week. If you want to spend less so you can save more and pay off debt, you must know what you are spending your money on and then decide what expenditures you can eliminate or reduce. Consider using cash for two weeks instead of using your credit cards or debit card. I have heard that it hurts to break a $20, so maybe using cash can help you to start spending less of your hard-earned money.
Start Knocking Out Your Debt
Don’t be one of those people who justify their debt by thinking that as long as you can afford to make the minimum payments on your credit card you are okay. You must start paying more toward your debt which will reduce the amount of interest you will pay over the life of that debt. Also by paying more towards your debt, you will be able to pay that debt off faster so you can start putting that money towards your savings and start earning interest instead of paying interest. Finally, do not be afraid to call your credit card company to negotiate a lower interest rate. The worse that can happen is that they say no!
Start Saving, Start Saving, Start Saving
Between making excuses, having good intentions, or just breaking the promises we make to ourselves, it’s easy to understand how we oftentimes fall short of achieving our goals, but we have to start saving money now! For our short term savings, consider opening a savings account at a financial institution different from where your checking account is (to make it a little harder to get to) and set up a bill pay or draft where you pay yourself each month before you pay any other bills. In addition, start putting money away towards retirement because retirement isn’t a question of if, it is a question of when. If your company offers a match where they will contribute a certain percentage of pay if you are setting aside some of you earnings into a company plan, you are leaving money on the table by not taking full advantage of this benefit. For example, if your company will match $.50 of every dollar you set aside into your 401k up to 5% of your salary, by putting anything less than 5%, you are basically saying no to free money. The last simple tip when it comes to saving is this: saving something is better than saving nothing and whatever you have been saving, start saving more!