Tips and Tricks to Improve Your Finances

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Improving your finances improves your happiness, in general, so I thought it would be important to share stuff that’s worked for me.

I’m in the best financial shape in my life, despite quitting my job and my wife recently quitting hers too. A lot of that is thanks to you guys, the readers, but it’s also thanks to frugality, to eliminating debt, to saving as much as I can. To these hacks.

Here’s what works for me — amuse abstain ablaze me, as I’m not adage they’ll plan for everybody. Allocation your tips and tricks in the comments!

1-Use cash. Instead of charging things to acclaim cards or debit cards, use banknote for non-bill spending such as bistro out, gas, groceries. Spending banknote makes the spending added real, and there’s an added advantage of alive if you’re out of cash, instead of spending added than you

2-Small annual accumulation transfers. I got this abstraction from my acquaintance Trent at The Simple Dollar, who automatically deducts $20 a anniversary from his analysis to savings. I absitively that I could reside with $40/week after actually activity it — it’s a almost baby alteration that I almost notice, and I save about $2,000 a year on top of my beyond bi-weekly accumulation transfers.

3-Stay home. Going out makes you added acceptable to absorb unnecessarily. You eat at restaurants, go to the mall, stop at the gas base for snacks. It’s harder to abstain spending if you’re on the road. Instead, break home, and acquisition chargeless entertainment. It’s aswell a abundant way to band with your family.

4-Don’t get catalogs. Or emailed announcements from companies aggravating to advertise you stuff. Their announcements of sales or air-conditioned new articles accomplish it actual appetizing to buy something you don’t need. Instead, stop the catalogs and emails from anytime accepting to you in the aboriginal place, and you’ll absorb less.

5-Keep a 30-day list. If you accept an actuation to buy something you don’t actually need, put it on a 30-day list. You can’t buy annihilation but aliment — aggregate abroad goes on the list, with the date that it’s added to the list. If the 30 canicule are up, you can buy it — but a lot of likely, the able appetite to buy it will be gone, and you can appraise it added calmly.

6-Cook at home. I know, it seems added difficult than bistro out. But it doesn’t accept to be hard. Bandy calm a quick stir-fry with arctic veggies and either boneless craven or (my favorite) tofu with soy booze or tamari. Accomplish home-made pizza with a banal crust, some sauce, cheese and veggies. Put some spices on something and bandy it in the oven while you baker some amber rice. Not alone is this abundant cheaper than bistro out, but it’s healthier.

7-Exercise. Staying advantageous is the best way to abstain cher medical bills later.

8-Use the envelope system. It’s the aforementioned abstraction as application banknote for spending, but in accession you use envelopes to breach your spending banknote into categories. My non-bills categories are groceries, gas and assorted spending. Three envelopes, and if they’re empty, I’ve spent my allotment.

9-Talk with your SO weekly. It’s important that you and your cogent added be on the aforementioned page. You should accept the aforementioned banking goals, and from there you should accede on a accepted spending plan and a action for actuation affairs that won’t accept either of you absent to asphyxiate the other. Accomplish abiding you both apperceive what bills accept been paid, what your balances are, etc. A annual affair of just 20 annual accomplishes that. Communication is key.

10-The spreadsheet tracker hack. There are big-ticket programs like MS Money, Quicken, and the like that will do amazing things with your banking information. There are even chargeless ones, on your desktop or online, that can do all kinds of things. Trouble is, I don’t charge all that. All I wish is a way to clue my money easily, with no added accretion and whistles, and a way to admission that online so that I can appearance it from anywhere. The best way I begin to do that is through Google Docs and Spreadsheets. I created a simple spreadsheet to clue my coffer accounts, that does aggregate I acclimated to do with MS Money. It has the date of anniversary transaction, the appellation and amount, a little acreage for memos, and a active balance. What added do I need? Keep it simple.

11-Pay accumulation and debt first. If you sit down to pay your bills (I do them all online), accomplish the aboriginal bills you pay be your accumulation alteration and your debt payments. If not, if you pay them endure … you’ll generally end up shortchanging them. But if you pay them first, you’ll accomplish abiding you still pay your hire or mortgage, utilities, advantage and gas … so you’ll just cut aback on added spending.

12-Exercise at home. Some of you will disagree with me on this, which is OK — anybody should do what works for them. But I’ve adored a lot of money that I acclimated to absorb on gyms by just active at the bounded clue or on the anchorage in my neighborhood, and affairs some simple weights and a adventurous bar. I do a lot of body-weight contest (pushups, Hindu squats, lunges, pullups, dips, etc.) and I don’t charge a gym for those things.

13-Cut out cable TV. I’m not adage I don’t watch TV — I watch DVDs, so that I’m abiding that what I’m watching is something great, rather than the abortive being you acquisition on TV a lot of of the time. And there’s a lot of it online for chargeless if you look. Not a huge savings, but it adds up.

14-Declutter. By accepting rid of all the balance being in your home, you not alone accomplish your activity abundant simpler and added peaceful, but you accomplish it harder to buy being that will just ataxia things up again. Once you’ve simplified your home, you won’t wish to go back.

15-Lend and borrow. Accord books and clothes and toys you don’t charge anymore to your accompany and family. If you charge something, forward out an email allurement if anyone has it. Chances are, they’ll accord it to you for chargeless if they don’t use it anymore.

16-Barter. It’s a absent art, but lots of humans will yield your casework or appurtenances instead of money, abnormally if you’re accompany or at atomic apperceive anniversary other. Get into the addiction of alms to barter, and you’ll acquisition yourself extenuative a lot of money. My website architecture was done through the bargain system, so I adored able-bodied over $1,000 there, for example.

17-Use online savings. I use Emigrant Direct, but ING Direct is aswell popular, as are a agglomeration of added online banks. Not alone do you acquire like alert the absorption of a accustomed coffer accumulation account, but if you don’t get the ATM annual it’s not as simple to abjure money … authoritative it beneath acceptable that you’ll get money out on an impulse.

18-Try frugal gift-giving. Giving humans ability is one of the a lot of admirable traditions, as it shows generosity and caring. Until it becomes commercialized. Then it’s just actually absolutely expensive. Instead, try giving the allowance of spending time with someone. Try giving them something you broiled or fabricated yourself. Try giving them casework they’d appreciate. It doesn’t accept to amount a lot to be generous.

19-Teach your kids about advertising, saving, earning, and gift-giving. If you accept kids, educating them about money will save you a lot of money in the continued run. If they apperceive about how commercial influences them in catchy ways, they’ll be beneath acceptable to appeal (OK, beg and appeal for) the latest fad toys. If they apperceive about extenuative and earning money, they’ll account the money that you earn, and that you are aggravating to save. If they apperceive that gift-giving doesn’t accept to be about spending a lot of money (see above), they won’t necessarily wish big-ticket stuff.

20-Find beatitude in life, not spending. Many times humans buy being because they anticipate (subconsciously perhaps) that it will accompany them happiness. They just HAVE to accept the latest apparatus or shoes or cars. It’s so fun! And yet, you buy that stuff, and you’re alone blessed for a day or two at most. Then you just charge to buy more. It’s a amaranthine cycle. Instead, apprentice to adulation life. Acquisition joy in nature! In the humans about you! In accomplishing something you love! In exercise and meditation! There’s so abundant in activity to accomplish us happy, there’s no charge to acquisition it in spending.


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