January 20, 2021
By Andrea Woroch
Money is a top concern for most Americans these days and, with so much uncertainty still ahead, it’s important to create financial security for yourself and your family as we enter into this new year.
Improving your finances may seem like a daunting process, but getting started is half the battle. Here are five money moves you can tackle now to get the momentum going.
1. Plug budget leaks.
Considering that 35% of Americans have less savings now than before the coronavirus took hold of our country, according to a recent survey from Bankrate.com, finding areas in your budget to rebuild savings should be a priority for the new year. Rebuilding an emergency fund may seem impossible now, but you may be surprised how much money you’re wasting after reviewing each and every expense in your monthly budget.
Begin trimming the fat in your budget by reviewing your recurring bills and look for subscriptions and memberships you don’t need or use. Negotiating with current service providers is another way to free up some extra cash. You can even sell that unused car that’s sitting in the driveway, since you and the kids are working and learning from home these days. Just give your budget a full audit and plug those budget leaks.
2. Wipe away credit card fees.
If paying off debt is one of your financial goals this year, you can get ahead faster by transferring your balance to a new card that offers 0% APR on balance transfers. This way your monthly payments go toward paying down the actual principal balance rather than towards any interest fees.
Make sure you find a card that offers the best terms and read the fine print so you know the exact due date you need to pay off that card so that deferred interest isn’t slapped onto your account. You can find full details at sites like CreditCards.org to help you make the best decision and get out of debt faster.
Excessive debt can impact your credit score by raising your credit utilization, the amount of credit you’re using relative to your total credit limit. You can check your credit score and read your credit report for free within minutes by joining MoneyTips.
3. Reduce impulse purchases.
Have you ever calculated how much you spend on impulse every month? According to a recent study from Slickdeals.net, the average American spends a whopping $450 every month on unplanned purchases. Not only does this take a big bite out of your monthly income, but it will likely lead to unmanageable debt.
Get a hold of your spending by using a budgeting app like Mint which links all your financial accounts in one place, including your bank account and credit cards to help you see just what you’re spending on every month. This can help you make better buying decisions and tracking purchases to reduce those impulse shopping sprees.
4. Boost your income.
When you’re living paycheck to paycheck and your budget is already tight, making more money may be your only option to create financial security. The good news is there are many options to increase your cash flow with side hustles that you can even do right from home. For instance, you can find a range of remote working opportunities through Remote.co as well as freelance gigs through FlexJobs.com.
If you enjoy spending time with animals, you can turn that into a money-making opportunity by pet sitting through Rover.com where you can make up to $1,000 a month. The online platform makes it easy to set up a profile and create a schedule that works best for you.
5. Tie up loose financial ends.
No one wants to think about tragedy, but it’s crucial for protecting yourself, your family and your finances. According to the 2020 Estate Planning and Wills Study by Caring.com, less than one third of Americans have an estate plan, even though it’s advised that all adults over the age of 18 have a will set up. Having certain legal documents in place in case of your unexpected passing will make things less confusing and stressful for family during an already difficult time.
Skip the expensive estate planning attorney and tie up this loose financial end online from the comfort of your home. In fact, sites like TrustandWill.com make it easy and affordable to set up your will in a matter of minutes for as little as $89. This includes important documents like power of attorney, health directives and guardianship. They offer step-by-step instructions to help you through the process. You can even print the legal documents right from home.
People with higher credit scores get lower interest rates on their loans, mortgages, and other credit. You can check your credit score and read your credit report for free within minutes by joining MoneyTips.