Few things can be as stressful and overwhelming as managing your finances. Money certainly isn’t what life is all about. But it can be difficult to enjoy it when you’re late on rent or staring down debt payments.
Even if you’re in the deepest, darkest financial abyss, you can make your way back to the light. It’s possible to gain control of your finances by taking daily steps toward stability and independence. To help you get started on your path to success, here are five tips to start implementing today:
1. Evaluate Your Financial Situation
It’s important to know where your finances currently stand before you get started. Everyone is in a different financial situation. Some people make six figures a year but are drowning in debt. Others might be making minimum wage and are struggling to make ends meet. Taking financial control means something different to everyone, but it’s still important to establish a baseline.
Identify your personal financial struggles by running a self-audit. Do you have cumbersome debt weighing you down? Are your spending habits out of control? Are your finances in check, but you want to take the next step forward? Once you know where you stand, you can start solving the problems specific to your situation.
2. Track Your Spending
If you want to take control of your finances, you need to know where your money is going. If all you know is that your bank account is almost empty before each pay period, you won’t know where to start. Tracking your spending will illuminate the specific areas of your finances that you need to work on.
Modern technology has made it so much easier to track your spending. A debit card connected to your bank app will automatically record each transaction you make. Within the app you might even have charts and graphs showing exactly how your spending is divided.
Use these resources to your advantage. For example, an app might help you realize that you spend a lot more on eating out than you thought. All of that money spent on fast food may be the reason why you keep cutting it close on your utility bill. Once you know this is a problem, you can make a plan to adjust your spending accordingly.
3. Build Up Your Credit
Your credit score can have a significant impact on your personal finances. For example, a high credit score can qualify you for better rates on your loans. If you improve your credit score, you might be able to change rates in the middle of a payment plan. This will make it easier to pay off your debts once and for all.
Building up your credit can be a long process backed by new habits built on timely payments. However, there are a few shortcuts you can take to try and improve your score quickly. By checking your reports, you may uncover errors that are bringing your score down. Report these mistakes to have them removed, and you might gain a couple of points in a single day.
Don’t get your hopes up too high. What you really need to do is learn how to manage credit for the long term. Make your payments on time, don’t max out your credit cards, and don’t take on more debt you can’t handle. After some time, your credit card will start to rebound.
4. Automate Everything You Can
If there is an aspect of your personal finances that can be automated, do it. Putting your bills on autopay ensures that you never forget to pay them on time. No late payments means no additional fees or extra interest buildup.
You can even automate your savings. Having an emergency fund is much better than resorting to taking out another loan in the case of an emergency. With your financial institution you may be able to schedule monthly savings contributions or use a round-up function. You can use similar methods for investing purposes as well.
5. Increase Your Income
Many financial problems can be done away with by increasing your monthly income. This is easier said than done, but it’s an avenue worth pursuing. The solution isn’t always to clock in as many overtime hours as possible. In fact, there are many smaller actions you can take to augment your income.
Starting a side hustle will only take a few hours of your week and can actually be an enjoyable hobby. You can flip clothing articles online for profit or sell your services as an editor for student papers. The small amounts of cash you pull in can be enough to cover gas and groceries for the month. That’s two fewer payments you have to worry about.
It will take some hard work and sacrifice, but following these steps can help you get control of your finances. You might have to watch less Netflix during the day or cut back on your favorite treats. But it will all be worth it when your finances allow you to breathe a little easier.