8 Small Money Moves That Can Change Your Financial Life
Do you want to become a financial success? Becoming successful in your finances isn’t easy, but it’s also not so difficult that you can’t get there. While it will take some effort to realize your dream, building wealth doesn’t have to involve drastic changes to your lifestyle. All it takes is a few small, deliberate moves for you to reach your financial goal. Here are eight small money moves that can change your financial life for the better (No. 7 isn’t as bad as it sounds).
1. Save your raises
Did you just get a big raise? Congratulations! Now act as if that raise never existed. If you were able to manage before the raise, behaving as if you don’t have the money shouldn’t be too hard. After you get that first fat check, set up automatic transfers so the additional earnings go straight into your savings account. Before you know it, you will have built a healthy savings account that will get you through your next financial storm. Also think about using your raises to beef up retirement savings. However, if you were struggling before the raise, you may be better off working on devising a budget so you can keep a close eye on what is coming into and going out of your household.
2. Make extra debt payments
Debt has a way of creeping up on you. You make one small charge here, and another small charge there. Before you know it, you’ve accumulated thousands in credit card debt and you don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel anytime soon. If you’re trying to dig your way out of a debt mountain, making minimum payments won’t cut it. It will take forever to pay off your debt and you’ll pay a ton of interest in the process. It will be necessary to make an additional payment or pay a little more than the minimum each month if you want to crush your debt. And once you finally pay off your debt, you can use that money to pay off another debt.
3. Boost your financial education
Learning shouldn’t stop once you graduate. There’s a wealth of information out there, even free information thanks to public libraries. One money move that can turbocharge your finances is taking the time to improve your financial knowledge. This could be through personal finance books, workshops, or webinars. Sharpening your financial skills will assist you with making better decisions with your money and help you obtain the knowledge you need to grow your wealth.
When it comes to educating yourself, one thing to remember is that you need to be careful about the source of your advice. Not all financial experts have a certification or license, and some of them may unknowingly give poor advice (even those with certifications could have an off day). Be sure to always check financial information with a trusted financial professional.
4. Adjust your spending habits
Another small way to get in charge of your money is to change the way you spend it. For example, instead of going out and buying the latest phone or this season’s outfit, try waiting until the price is reduced or on sale (few people will notice you’re wearing an outfit from last season, trust us). Exercising a bit of self-control can yield great results. Also make an effort to control your spending by taking a list with you when you go shopping. This will help reduce the urge to buy whatever catches your eye.
5. Open a retirement account
We know, this isn’t sexy and retirement seems like an eternity away, but seriously, just start that 401(k) with your employer or an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) and begin spending money on your future self, even if it’s only $50 per month. That’s right, don’t think of it as saving money or depriving yourself. Think about it as giving your future self more spending money. Wouldn’t it be nice if you had given yourself more spending money today 10 years ago?
6. Buy a used car that’s 2 or 3 years old
A new car sure does sound and look nice, but the price tag never looks that nice to your financial health, especially when you compare it to slightly used cars. If we’re being honest with ourselves, you don’t really need a brand new, top-dollar car. The average price of a new car is over $34,000! However, buying a car just 2 or 3 years old can save you thousands. You’ll even get that new car smell and shine.
7. Ask for a raise
You, like most people, probably dread asking for a raise or a bigger raise than you just received. However, you often have to ask for what you want in life. The key is to do your research ahead of time. You’ll need to know how much value you add to the company and how much your skills are truly worth in the job market, along with the right way to communicate this to your boss. Here is a list of things you should never say during a raise negotiation. You’ll also have more success if you pick a good time to ask and making sure to ask a fair amount. Outlandish requests or asking for a raise when the company is struggling stacks the deck against you.
8. Give back
While it’s important to save as much as you can, it’s also important to think of others. If you’re able, set aside some of your money to donate to a worthy cause. This will instill a sense of gratitude and hopefully encourage you to become a better steward of your income. However, if you can’t afford to give money, you can also donate your time. You can start your search for volunteer opportunities on sites like Volunteer Match.
Additional reporting by Eric McWhinnie.