With the summer season being well underway and the coolness of fall soon approaching, we could all benefit from some quick and easy financial hacks to guarantee we’re in the best position possible. The heat of the summer and the list of never-ending events can quickly cause us to feel we’re burned out from life’s demands. Grab a nice, cold glass of your favorite summer beverage and take a look at the tips below to recharge your finances.
- Set a Cash Budget for Discretionary Expenses
The best way to combat overspending in certain categories such as entertainment, meals or clothes, is to set a cash budget. In life, there are always trade-offs, and this holds just as true with your finances. It’s all about finding a balance between what you want to spend money on, what you need to spend money, and what you can hold off on.
We swipe our debit and credit cards with ease – and new features with our cell phones make it effortless to spend money. When setting your budget or reviewing previous transactions, we often don’t realize how much money is actually flying out of the door. The best way to manage this is to withdraw a designated amount of cash and label each specific category every pay period. Once the cash is gone, it’s gone. This habit can take some time to truly activate, but it forces you to reconsider each purchase – saving you money in the long run.
- Create and Stick to a Budget (or whatever name you give it)
I know, you set a budget at the beginning of the year. However, needs and responsibilities change! Life events such as buying a home, marriage, a new bundle of joy or sending a child off to college can quickly add more expenses. Be sure to remove any bills that no longer apply and make adjustments where necessary. This is also a great time to revise or add brand new finance goals during this budget exercise. Don’t let this budget plan collect dust – get into the habit of reviewing your budget and spending habits as often as needed. I recommend downloading Mint to get started on yours!
- Evaluate your Current Investments
Are you still on track for retirement? Review and adjust your 401k contributions. In the instance your salary has increased, so should your savings. If you have solicited the help of a financial advisor, schedule a meeting to discuss how you can further maximize your investments and guarantee a better future for your family.
- Pay Off Credit Card Debt
Vacations, celebrations, birthdays, and everything in between add up during the summer months. Commit to resolving your credit card balances and create a plan to ensure it happens. Remember, interest can accrue quickly on credit cards so be mindful, but diligent about reducing your credit card usage. List any outstanding credit card amounts and create a tangible plan that will help to get (and keeping them) at a zero balance. Implement a rule – what’s spent during one cycle must be paid off in full. This will help manage debt safely while making you think twice about swiping the plastic.
- Create or Update your Will
Death is a topic that many people don’t like to discuss very often. In order to guarantee financial success for those you care about the most while also limiting confusion, a will is necessary. Determine what property you would like to include and appoint an executor to handle your affairs. The passing of a loved one is never easy to handle; however, it removes the chaos that can ensue. Communicate the location of the will to family members or close friends.
- Use a Safe Deposit Box for Important Documents
Items such as birth certificates, social security cards, wills, passports, and other pertinent documents should be stored securely in a deposit box. Why is this important? If you start a new job and your identity has to be verified, it could cause some issues if these documents aren’t quickly available. There are costs associated with replacing these items, along with varying timeframes in which you’ll receive them. Save yourself the hassle and make sure your vital records are stored safely.
- Review Insurance Coverages
Are you receiving the best possible rate for home and auto insurance? There’s no harm in calling your current insurance companies to see if you qualify for any additional discounts or savings. Other companies can also provide you a quote within minutes to ensure your pricing is comparable.
- Maximize Employment Benefits
Have you reviewed your 401k contributions lately? Double-check your contributions and take the time to verify your employers’ match benefits. Also, review any supplemental information to make sure you’re taking advantage of all of their perks. Many employers offer discounts on things ranging from cell phone service to various types of insurances, so review that information regularly.
- Automate your Savings
The easiest way to hit your savings goal is to automate as much as possible. Allocate a portion of your paycheck each period to automatically flow to your savings account. That removes one item off of your to-do list that seems to never end. Are you the type that can’t fight the temptation? Open a savings account at another bank location that is not easily accessible and watch your money multiply.
- Review of Credit Report
There’s the saying that “cash is king”, however, credit holds the power. Dedicate some time to review your credit report provided by any of the three credit bureaus to ensure there are no errors. In the instance something appears incorrect, you can follow up with the credit bureau from which the report was provided and follow the actions necessary until the issue is resolved. You can check out your credit score instantly with Turbo.
- Unsubscribe from Sales Emails
It’s impossible for us to patronize and take advantage of every sale that happens at our favorite stores. Remove the pressure and make the decision to declutter your email inbox. The less you see, essentially the less you spend. Achieving your financial goals are much more important than running to your local store or shopping online each time you’re notified. Remove the stress and hassle by opting out of sale notifications.
Choose all or a few of the tips listed to make the best use of National Financial Awareness Day!