Because it’s a new year and we are already full swing into our resolutions for the year, I thought I’d write about a few things you can do with your money that will get your net worth moving in a positive direction. First of all, I love, love, love being organized!! There is just something about knowing where everything is in my house (and my finances) that gives me so much freedom! By getting organized, not only will this allow you to check off #1 & #2 on the list, but it really will save you from making costly mistakes. So go through your finances, find out what you have and organize it! Once you know what you have, figure out where you want to go. Here are 7 easy things you can do to become a money savvy pro.
1. Sell Your Stuff
About twice a year I go through my kid’s closets and I pull out all the stuff that is too small for them or that they no longer wear. Closets that were once stuffed now are all of a sudden roomier with a lot more empty hangers. Where I live we have two huge consignment sales twice a year where you can sell all of your gently used baby items and kid’s clothing. If you aren’t sure you have one in your area I would check the websites of Rhea Lana and Just Between Friends to find out where their sales are located. You have to put some work in with pricing and tagging your items but I find it’s totally worth it. You can also find apps and Facebook buy/sell/trade groups where you can sell your items in your area which I find convenient as well.
2. Stop Buying New
Sometimes it is hard to find something you need that isn’t gross or arrogantly overpriced but unless you need something immediately, be patient and search apps like ‘Let Go’ or ‘Offer Up’ for household items. Try Craigslist or even eBay and eventually you will find what you’re looking for. I had been wanting a desk for my boys’ room so they could put all of their art supplies away and have a space to work at and I searched and searched until a friend let us know they had a desk in storage that they were trying to get rid of. It was old, dirty, and the drawers wouldn’t open. With a little sanding and painting (with the leftover gray paint we used on the walls), it looks good as newish and my boys were so excited!
3. Track Your Spending
It always seems as though you have just enough to cover your bills each month, but along with the shopping and dining out do you know where all that extra spending is going? I love using Mint and Personal Capital to track my spending and ensure I’m sticking with my budget. A few hundred dollars a month going to stuff instead of investing means you could be missing out on $4,000 a year or even worse, you’ll miss $50,000 over 10 years!! It may seem like no big deal today but 10, or 20 years from now you’ll be wishing you had made those little sacrifices back then.
4. Start a Spending Challenge
No, I don’t mean a challenge to spend as much as you can, but to try to spend the least amount as possible! I personally respond very well to challenges especially when I am competing against my husband. Instead of a chore it becomes a game and the great news is that I get my husband on board too because neither of us want to lose this thing! We get creative by finding coupons, packing the kid’s lunches, packing our own lunches and coming up with unique dinners to use up whatever is in the pantry. Soup and chicken nuggets anyone? The point is that whether you set the challenge up for a week or a month, it is very doable and the short-term challenge keeps you focused and will give your savings a nice little bump.
5. Automate Your Savings
Look at your total net income (what you bring home) and figure out what 1% of your net income equals. Now, are you able to give up that 1%? Maybe you can afford to save a bit more even? Figure out a monthly or weekly amount you are able to save and make it automatic. I started using the Stash app and when it comes to investing, it’s a great option to put a small amount of money away in the market each week or each month into low cost ETFs. As low as $5 in fact! Use my code crystal295nk for an automatic $5 credit into your Stash account. If the markets are a little too wild for you, my current go-to savings account is the 1.05% savings account with Goldman Sachs.
6. Get Frugally Creative
I find that people correlate being frugal with a negative connotation like ‘cheapskate,’ ‘scrooge’ or ‘tightwad.’ That couldn’t be further from the truth! Being frugal is a mindset and eventually becomes a lifestyle. For me it has come easy because it has been my career or helping people with their personal finances. Rather than striving to accumulate as much stuff as possible, I’m striving for financial freedom so we can travel and give our time to others for greater causes. This means we have to get creative with the ways we save each month. Some of those ways include:
- Call your service providers and negotiate your bills. All it takes is just a call and nicely asking for a discount in return for your loyalty. If this just makes you too uncomfortable, try a service such as BillCutterz. They will negotiate on your behalf and their charge is 50% of your savings. It’s a win-win!!
- If you live in Texas it means your energy is deregulated. You are free to choose any electric provider that you want but with all those options it can be quite overwhelming!!! Energy Ogre charges you $10/month to research and switch you automatically between energy providers. I’m saving $1,300 a year because I’m having someone else research the best rates and the best times to switch.
- Along with switching energy providers, it helps to just cut your usage as well. Keep your heat lower in the winter and your a/c higher in the summer, use a programmable thermostat, shut the lights off when you leave a room. You know, just the basics!
- At the grocery store stop buying bottled water and get a water filter instead, buy healthy and budget friendly foods such as beans, rice, and veggies, use cash back apps such as Ibotta and Checkout 51, and plan out your meals weekly with an app such as eMeals.
- Clean your home using homemade cleansers for things such as laundry detergent, glass cleansers, and even those convenient dishwasher tablets. There are a ton a recipes and DIY options on Pinterest. I linked a few of my favorites!
- Take advantage of free entertainment from library books and movies to all the events that go on within your city.
7. Review Your Rates & Fees
Having money means you are either getting paid interest to keep your money with someone (such as a bank), or paying interest to keep someone else’s money (such as a mortgage) so it’s a good idea to go back and review your rates every so often. Interest rates are expected to go up again in 2017 so now is a great time to see if you are eligible for lower rates on your loans. A great starting point is BankRate to get an idea of what rates are going for right now. You can look up personal loans, auto loans, and even mortgages. Compared to the rate you’re paying now, it may be worthwhile to look into refinancing at a lower rate. And don’t forget credit cards! If you are carrying a balance, it may be beneficial to transfer your balance to a credit card that offers a 0% rate on balance transfers for 12 to 15 months.
To get the greatest return on your money, link your accounts to Personal Capital and find out what kind of internal fees you are paying on your investments and if there are lower cost options out there. Look at your savings and switch to a bank that will pay you a higher interest rate on your savings accounts and CDs. Little moves like this that will cut down on interest charges and fees as well as bump up rates you’re earning on your savings so take advantage!
These are all easy, little moves you can make with your money and even though a few dollars saved here and there may seem insignificant now, those little changes add up to bigger changes later. What will be the first change you make?
Disclaimer: I am a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER TM (CFP®), but I am not your CFP® or financial advisor. The information in this article is for general informational and entertainment purposes only and does not constitute financial advice. This article does not create a financial planner-client relationship. The author is not liable for any losses or damages related to actions of failure to act related to the content in this article. If you need specific financial advice, consult with a licensed financial advisor or CFP® who can tailor advice regarding your specific circumstances. Additionally, sometimes I use affiliate links to support my website. This means I may earn a small commission, which is no additional cost to you, for referring and discussing products and services that I personally use, or have used, and trust. Thanks for your support!