Money Hacks: Tips and Tricks to Improve Your Finances
I thought it would be entertaining to do a similar thing with money, following up this week’s Parent Hacks, which focused on clever ways to save money and avoid waste without sacrificing comfort or convenience.
To that end, I figured it was vital to pass on the strategies that have helped me succeed financially. Although I recently lost my job and my wife has also recently left hers, we are better off financially than we have ever been. I owe a great deal of that success to you, the readers, but I’ve also made it possible by living frugally, paying off my debt, and putting away as much money as I can. Towards these thugs.
Here is what has helped me in the past; before you flame me, know that I am not claiming that these methods will be effective for everyone. Put your best advice in the comments!
Do business with actual cash. Spending on things other than bills, like eating out, gas, and groceries, is best handled with hard currency rather than plastic. Using cash makes purchases feel more tangible, and it also has the added benefit of alerting you when you’ve depleted your funds.
Reduced weekly savings transfers. My friend Trent over at The Simple Dollar inspired me to do this by telling me about how he sets up an automatic $20 weekly savings. To supplement my larger biweekly savings transfers, I’ve decided to put $40 away every week. The amount is so small that it hardly registers, but it adds up to about $2,000 a year.
Rest in your own home. To socialise increases the likelihood that you will waste money on unnecessary purchases. You frequent eateries, shopping centres, and convenience stores. Being on the road makes it difficult to control spending. Keep to yourself and enjoy the free entertainment that can be found at home. It’s also an excellent method of strengthening familial ties.
Turn down catalogues. Or promotional emails from businesses. Whenever they promote sales or introduce new, exciting products, it’s hard to resist the urge to buy more than you need. Instead, you can save money by blocking catalogues and promotional emails before they even reach you.
Make a list every day for the next 30 days. Make a 30-day list of things you want but don’t need to help curb impulse buys. You are only allowed to buy what is absolutely necessary; everything else must be added to the list and dated when it is done. After 30 days, you can buy it, but by then, the urgency to do so will have subsided and you’ll be able to make a more considered decision.
Make your own meals at home. I get it, cooking at home looks like a bigger hassle than eating out. It need not be challenging, though. Make a quick and easy stir-fry with frozen vegetables, boneless chicken, or (my personal favourite) tofu, and some soy sauce or tamari.
Prepare your own pizza in the comfort of your own home with a premade crust, pizza sauce, cheese, and your favourite toppings. While the brown rice is cooking, spice up whatever you’re baking. In addition to being cheaper than eating out, this option also provides numerous health benefits. Exercise. Maintaining your current level of health is the best defence against future, more expensive medical care needs.
Employ the mail-in method. Using envelopes to allocate your cash into different spending categories is similar to using cash. Food, gas, and other miscellaneous items make up my non-bills spending. As soon as all three envelopes are depleted, I will have spent my budget for the month.
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Hold a weekly conversation with your significant other. Having a shared understanding between the two of you is crucial. Shared financial goals are essential, as is an overarching spending strategy and an approach to impulse purchases that don’t leave either partner wanting to strangle the other. Accurately tracking who owes what, how much, etc., requires that you and your partner share this information. That can be done in just 20 minutes per week by getting together once a week. The conversation is essential.
Methods for circumventing a tracking spreadsheet. You can do incredible things with your financial data using pricey programmes like Microsoft Money or Quicken. Even better, you can find free ones that do a wide range of tasks, either on your computer’s desktop or in the cloud. The problem is that I have no use for all that. What I need is a simple online system that allows me to keep tabs on my finances whenever I like, regardless of where I happen to be.
In my experience, Google Docs and Spreadsheets are the most helpful tools for this. I used to use Microsoft Money, but I finally gave in and made a simple spreadsheet to keep track of all my finances. A running total, transaction dates, titles, amounts, a memo field, and a small memo space are all included. Just tell me what else I need to know. Maintain a minimum of complications. I’ve updated this post with a sample you can check out.
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Prioritize your savings and debt payments. Make your savings transfer and your debt payments the first bills you pay when you sit down to pay them (I pay mine all online). If you pay them last, however, you may find yourself underpaying them. However, if you pay them first, you won’t miss out on essentials like housing, food, transportation, and utilities, and instead will be forced to reduce your budget elsewhere.