If you’re looking for things you can do right now to improve your finances, look no further. I comprised a list of 25 things you can do right now that will help you on your journey to Financial Freedom. *This post contains some referral & affiliate links*
1. Stop buying things you can’t afford– If you can’t pay for it in full at the moment and/or you don’t have the money already put aside for it, you can’t afford it. Also, if you have credit card debt and can’t afford to pay more than the minimum monthly payments, you can’t afford it.
2. Check your withholding calculations– Do you get a large sum of money back at tax time? If so, you’re overpaying the government in taxes. Your goal should be to get back close to $0. Not owing the government and them not owing you means both sides won fair and square (ok, maybe you don’t think your tax rate is “fair” but you get the point). Use this withholding calculator to find the perfect sweet spot.
3. Turn off the TV & invest in yourself– There’s nothing wrong with watching a little bit of TV here and there. Who doesn’t love a good trashy episode of Teen Mom or RHOA. Just remember, while you’re watching these reality stars live out their dreams on TV, making money, you could potentially be letting your own dreams pass you by. TV can be a good distraction from the everyday norm but only in moderation. Try cutting your TV time in half and spend the rest of that time reading, learning something new or working on a hobby. That extra time spent investing in self-development can lead to a new side hustle or just a better quality of life.
4. Get off The “Gram” and go check your bank accounts– Similar to tip # 3, social media can be very addicting and offers an escape from reality. Rather than spend endless amounts of time scrolling on Instagram or Facebook, scroll through some of your bank account statements.
5. Download and organize your banking and personal finance apps- Download your bank apps and other personal finance apps and organize them on the home screen of your phone (preferably in a home screen folder). This makes accessing and tracking your money and transactions much easier.
6. Set aside time for a “Money Check-in”– Each day (if you’re just working on getting your financial habits in order) or each week (if you’re in maintenance mode), set aside 10-15 minutes where you’ll review your bank account, budget, and other personal finance metrics. Call it your daily or weekly “Money Check-in”. Make it a habit and it will become easier to keep up with.
7. Put alerts on your bank account & credit card activity- Set up your phone (or email) to receive alerts when your credit card is charged or money is withdrawn from your checking account. This allows you to stay on top of your account activity. I have my alerts set up for anything over $5. If something gets charged or taken from my account, I know about it instantly.
8. Never buy something online without searching for a coupon first – Before you pay full price online (or in a store) do a quick google search to see if there’s a coupon or discount code available for you to use. They even have apps to help you do this now.
9. Just ask for a discount– If you’re purchasing something in a store, don’t be afraid to ask the cashier or clerk if there are any discounts available for you to use. You never know when they might say yes. Also, call up all of your service providers and ask for a discount. You’d be surprised at what you can get by just asking.
10. Donate or sell unused items- You have a lot of money lying around your house in the form of unused clothes and items. Donate them to charity and take advantage of the tax write-off or sell them for extra money.
12. Get money back for online shopping- If you do a lot of online shopping, sign up for something like Ebates so that you can get rebates for your purchases. Remember you’re not shopping to get the rebate (that leads to unnecessary shopping), you’re just shopping the way you normally would and are taking advantage of rebate offers.
13. Frozen dinners > Fast food- Have frozen dinners on hand and let that be your last resort before you go out and buy fast food. It may not be the healthiest but it’s no healthier than your fast food options and it’s cheaper. I keep Trader Joe’s frozen dinners on hand for the nights that we run out of home cooked food (my favorite TJ frozen meal is the Orange Mandarin Chicken and the Vegetable Fried Rice- just as tasty but cheaper than a meal from the local Chinese spot).
14. Calculate your net-worth- Calculate and keep track of your net-worth. You can use an app like Personal Capital to help you keep track of your net-worth and it’s totally free. They only charge you if you want to hire a financial advisor. Otherwise, you can connect all of your bank accounts, credit card accounts, retirement accounts and investment accounts in one place and it updates automatically to keep track of your net-worth. If you know of other net-worth tracking apps, share them in the comment section.
15. Put your goals in a visible place- To keep you motivated and clear on your goals, you need to see them often. This tip will NEVER get old. Fill out and print the goals sheet in the Resource Library.
16. Figure out how much you need to retire comfortably and then plan accordingly- If you’re looking for a general number, use the 25x rule. Find out more about the 25x rule calculation here and check out the Resource Library for the free workbook that will calculate the 25x rule for you.
17. Calculate your savings rate- Figure out your current savings rate and set a target for your goal savings rate. Click here to see how to calculate your savings rate.
18. Start talking to your children about money. You don’t want them to make the same mistakes you did, so make money a topic of conversation in your household. Its ok to talk about budgeting and saving with them and it’s never too early to start.
19. Improve your financial circle of influence- Surround yourself with like-minded people who can support you on your journey. May I suggest the private JourneyToLaunch Facebook group 😉
20. Make the best use of your time in the car- Have a driving commute? Listen to podcasts and audio books to help inspire you on the journey.
21. Ask for a raise- Are you a high performing employee and feel that you’re being underpaid and undervalued? Research the standard salary for someone in a similar position and then with that information and some confidence, ask for a raise.
22. Contribute up to the company match- If you have access to a company sponsored 401K plan and they offer you a match, contribute at least up to the minimum amount to get the match.
23. Place more value on experiences, not things- Putting your money towards things like a concert or a night out instead of purchasing pricey things tends to result in more satisfaction and happiness.
24. Celebrate your financial wins no matter how small- If you’ve paid down a credit card or stopped yourself from buying lunch 2 days in a row, something you normally wouldn’t do, acknowledge that as a win and give yourself credit. No win is too small. It’s the celebration and series of small wins that allow you to stay encouraged on your journey.
25- Don’t be too tough on yourself past mistakes or future mistakes – Speaking of journeys, don’t be so tough on yourself while you journey to launch to Financial Freedom. Give yourself room to make mistakes and to learn as you go. You’re building lifelong habits that are often the opposite of what you’ve done for most of your life. It’s ok to not get it right every time.
Do you plan on applying any of these steps to your life? Comment below and let me know.