The following financial tips are not revolutionary, but they're time-tested. If you need help making the financial progress you seek, reading these proven steps toward fiscal success can't hurt.
1. The First Step Is Looking at the Bank Statements
Believe it or not, the simple act of opening your bank statements and going through a month's worth of expenses is the first step toward financial sanity. It's easy to convince yourself that you only used DoorDash three times this month. When the bank statement proves that you ordered food delivery 12 times, you might get the wake-up call you need.
2. Always Ask, “Do I Need This?”
We tend to blur the line between “want” and “need”. We want to drive through Chick-fil-A rather than cook a cheaper chicken breast at home. We want to purchase a new pair of New Balances before ours are ripping at the seams. We don't need to waste money—we want to. If you can habitually define the line between want and need, you're a step closer to eliminating frivolous purchases.
“Budget” is not a term we hear often, especially not from our cultural influencers or political leaders. Even when leaders speak about a budget, it's usually in the context of increasing it (which isn't how a budget works). Those who wonder where all their hard-earned money goes should start by creating a budget and sticking to it.
4. Waste Nothing
Waste is the enemy of financial independence. We're not advising hoarding, but embrace the Inuit mantra “use every part of the animal.” Freeze food that you're considering tossing. Keep that last scrap of wood or zip tie, as you never know when you might need it later. Waste not, want not.
5. Re-Examine Your Diet
The average American household spends about 11% of its total income (give or take a couple of percentage points) on food. This makes food one of the most costly expenditures and is one of the high-cost expenses you have the most control over. The smallest change in your food-related habits can produce significant savings. Consider eating out less, buying budget brands, and swapping filet mignon for chicken.
6. Split Subscriptions Whenever Possible
In a world where it's insufficient to have just Netflix, Max, or Hulu, subscription costs pile up quickly. Don't be ashamed to ask a friend or loved one to split subscriptions, as this could save you hundreds of dollars over a year.
7. Boost Your Income (Duh.)
While wasteful spending can get you far, it has its limits. If you hit a financial wall, you'll eventually have to boost your income. Ridesharing and food delivery, as well as entry-level online gigs, are popular sources of secondary income.
8. Put Your Money in the Metaphorical Cookie Jar
Know your spending habits. If you are less likely to spend when your checking account is low, transfer a sizable portion of your paycheck into savings, Robinhood, or another metaphorical cookie jar—and keep your wasteful hands out of it.
9. Determine if You Are (Or Aren't) A Credit Card Person
Do you throw away money each month because your high-interest credit cards always have a balance? Or do you reap the free benefit of credit card rewards, paying the cards off without ever paying interest? You're either a credit card person, or you aren't. You might be better off saying no more Visa for me, sir.
10. Delete the Apps
Having the Uber Eats app downloaded on your phone is like an alcoholic keeping beer in the fridge. The extra step of re-downloading the app may be enough to stanch your impulse. If deleting food-delivery apps spares you from even one impulse purchase, it's worthwhile.
11. Seek Out Free Hobbies
Rather than paying to bowl, take the family to the local farmer's market or park. For every money-sapping hobby, there is a free alternative. So long as you habitually mix in free entertainment, you'll put more money toward debts, savings, and big-picture expenditures.
12. Shop Around for Costly Recurring Expenditures
Don't hesitate to pit insurance companies, cellphone carriers, and internet providers against each other. Your business should be the constant subject of bidding wars, as you could save hundreds (or more) by shopping for the cheapest rates on essential expenditures.
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