If 2018 is your year to whip your financial situation into shape, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to go through a complicated process to get it done. In fact, sometimes the simple solutions are the best. To help you achieve your financial goals, here are 5 simple ways to improve your finances.
1. Make a Budget
If you don’t have a monthly budget, you should. Budgeting is definitely one of the best ways to improve your finances. There are plenty of freebie downloads online that will help you create a simple budget, or you can use an easy spreadsheet. There are also a lot of free apps and websites that will help make budgeting even easier. With a little planning, anyone can be successful at maintaining a budget.
2. Quit Charging
Credit card debt can trap you before you even realize it. And since the average interest rate is 16%, you will end up paying more in the end. If you have credit card debt, pay it off as quickly as possible (work those payments into your budget).
3. Save an Emergency Fund
Your emergency fund should consist of 3 to 6 months worth of expenses; enough to pay all your bills for that period of time. This amount will really help you get through some tough situations, like a job loss or medical crisis. If this seems like a lot to you, start with a smaller amount, such as $1,000 or even $500, and then build on it.
4. Control Impulses
There’s nothing wrong with spending some money on yourself every now and then, as long as it’s not an impulse purchase. Learning to control your buying impulses will save you money upfront, plus teach you how to save up for the things you want, like vacations, so you maintain full control.
5. Make Timely Payments
Whether it’s student loans, credit cards, bills, or car payments, it’s important to make your payments on time. Late or missing payments will adversely affect your credit score, making it harder for you to get loans you do need, such as a mortgage. You’ll also end up paying higher interest rates with a lower credit score.