Today I am giving some sound basic principles about small ways you can change your financial situation, save money, save on fees and avoid credit related issues as we all push into 2021 with new financial, personal and career minded goals. For me personally, I am at the point of mid 50’s and really working towards being able to retire sooner than later by investing everything I can, becoming 100% debt free and setting my goals I can reach one dollar at a time by managing what I already have, will make and hopefully find some ways to bring in more $ in 2021.
I am not a financial guru of any sorts so please understand these are just simple ideas from my personal experience, adult lessons learned and current state of economics that apply to my household, career and banking situation. Being smart with our earnings, making sound investments, paying off debt, using less credit, paying cash for things, spending the bulk of your money on needs (not wants) can make a huge difference. Just imagine saving $1000.00 a year or even 10’s of thousands of dollars a year by making small changes that will be managed daily, weekly and monthly to save you a ton of money.
1- Automate Everything- Set all your bills (utility payments, credit cards, investments and other financial obligations on an automatic process. This enables you to pay everything on time, avoid late fees, cutoffs, charges and interest. It also allows you to grow your investments more rapidly. Set it up, watch it work for you and check reanalyze everything every few months to make sure you are getting the bang for your buck
2- Evaluate Your Banking- Are you setup with the right banking services? What are your interest rates on loans, mortgages, payments and investments. Are you helping the bank build huge sky scrapers or are you building your own fortune. Shop banks, compare rates and make a move if needed. Check into federal credit unions and see how much you can actually save on fees, charges and what kind of products they carry to help you out.
3- Attack Your Debt- Do some research on how to alleviate your debt the fastest possible way. You may want to attack the largest debt first and then the small or vice versa. Either way set up a financial plan and attack debt. Every dollar you prepay now saves you interest and makes you more money in the long run. Why pay a minimum payment on a loan for 3-4 years when you can pay extra ($5.00-$50.00) or more a month and get rid of it. Why leave $2500.00 sitting in the bank making less than a few percent interest and pay 20% interest on a loan. Use it, lose it and move on to savings.
4- Maximize Cash Back Opportunity- If you use a credit card, make sure you are buying from places that pay you cash back. Shop cards and move balances to the best possible situation you can find. Use online apps that apply discounts, give cash back and link your cards so you reap the benefits. There are lots of opportunity in this area so do your research.
5- Evaluate Your Budget- Are you paying for TV services, streaming services, fees, charges and other unnecessary items that can be saving you in the long run. I recently checked into all my services, streaming, cable, phone, internet, etc. to see what possible changes I could have made to save money and invest that for my future. What I found was that I had 2-3 services at almost $40.00 a month I didn’t need. I consolidated and cut off my television service so I could use streaming cheaper and actually watch what I want to.
6- Review Your Employee Benefits- Do you have the correct amount of life insurance, are their cheaper benefits. Do you carry benefits designed more for single or married status. See how you can maximize every single dollar of employee benefits and leverage that to save money.
7- Check Your Credit History- Sign up for a free service to monitor your spending, credit and status. In todays times and with all the scammers we must stay on top of our credit and know what is happening with it. Most credit card companies and banks offer free credit assistance, reports and monitoring. I have made more financial strides and moves the last two years simply by logging into my free credit service, checking balances, watching my score grow and my debt go down. It shows me how to attack, what to attack and the impact it has on my ability down the road to become more financially secure.
8- Down Size- In the case of my wife and I, our kids are in their 20’s and have moved out. We no longer need a four bedroom home that sits there and eats a bigger mortgage payment, higher utility costs and insurance. So we cleaned it out and will have it on the market soon. The time is right for selling as home prices are way up and people are moving out of big cities like crazy to get away from the chaos happening. Find a smaller, nice place you can retire in, rent or go ahead and make that move to the beach, mountains or another town you always wanted to make.
9- Pay Cash- Do not use credit unless you have to. Save money and pay cash for large investments. I want a brand new truck, but refuse to pay $700.00 a month for 72 months so I will save for a few years, find a reasonable good used truck that meets my “needs”, not my “wants” and then make the deal with cash. Eat out less, cook at hone, avoid impulse buys. I am the worst at this so I am preaching to the choir. I love sites like wish, amazon, etc. and I believe a truck comes almost everyday with something. I have work to do here and making a bunch of routine casual unexpected impulse buys for “wants” can drain the old pocket book quickly.
10- Be Your Own Bank- Help those that need help, invest in your community and local shops. Give to good causes and watch the blessings return to your ten fold. Avoid being the family bank and allowing brothers, sisters, cousins and all the others to beg for money and use your emotions to keep their lifestyle up. Help them if needed, but set ground rules and “cut” them off if they cannot fulfill their obligations back to you. I have been burned by family and friends and it hurts, but we have to hold ourselves and them accountable for sound financial decisions, actions and behaviors.
As my dad always told me, “it is not what you make son, it is what you do with what you make”. He was a wise man, never had a great job or income but through sound financial choices and being smart with what he made, he and my mom set the standards for my brothers and I to better live lives, support our families and work towards accomplishing our dreams.