You do not have to wait for January 1st to make resolutions to improve your finances! Any time of the year is a good time to start taking concrete steps to organize your personal finances. The state of our finances is one of the biggest contributors to stress, and you can start to remove some of that constant anxiety by following the practical tips below.
Simple ways to improve your finances
1. Write down your financial problems and goals. Writing them down gives you clarity and finality, rather than constantly thinking and worrying about your finances without having a clear idea of what the issues are.
2. Speak to others. You can talk to close family members like a spouse or sibling so that you do not carry the burden alone. You could also join online financial forums and communities – however make sure to evaluate the quality of the website and the quality of the advice! If you feel you need professional advice on how to improve your finances, then you could also contact a financial planner, though invariably that would involve a fee.
3. Review your expenses of the past 3 months. Get an accurate idea of your spending pattern so you can plan better.
4. Use technology. In order to save, you should know what you spend on. Use mobile apps or online tools to track your spending, inflows and outflows. This can be a great help in your efforts to improve your finances.
5.Be specific about your goals. Do not write “Save for college education”, instead it should be “Save Rs. 25,000 by end of this year for college.”
6. Prioritise your financial goals. If you have loans or credit card debts, paying them off should be your first priority since the interest payments can pile up rapidly.
7. Have small goals. You may not be able to save Rs. 2000 a month on food bills, but you could find 5 ways to cut down expenses by Rs. 200. Achieving an actual saving of Rs. 1000 a month will give you greater satisfaction than worrying about how to cut down Rs. 2000 and being unable to achieve it.
8. Prioritise your expenses. Once you know how much and what you spend on, you can plan better. You may not be able to cut your movie bills, but you could reduce your cell phone bills.
9.Monetize your skills. Look for any way you can earn money – you could become an online tutor, or sell products online. Any extra money is useful.
10. Ask for a raise. If you have not had a raise for some time, make a case for an increase in salary.
11. Buy life insurance and/or a retirement plan. It is a necessary expense that will give you financial and mental peace and can be a useful tool for forced saving.
12. Become financially literate. There are many reliable websites which will give you a good understanding of personal finances, which will be a valuable life-long asset.
13. Obtain a copy of your credit report. Take steps to improve your credit score, if required. It will help you have easy access to credit when you need it in the future.
14.Resist the urge to splurge. There are certain times when our spending discipline goes out through the window – especially during festivals and family birthdays! Keep a check on your spending pattern during these times.
15. Making mistakes is fine! Do not get discouraged if you make mistakes or it takes long to see an improvement. Every little bit counts and in the end, discipline and patience will enable you to achieve your financial goals – one step at a time.