20 Ways to Improve Your Finances in 2020
A new year means New Years Resolutions, and it’s a perfect time to review and focus on the state of your finances. Money makes the world go round, so improving your financial outlook should be at the top of your list. As the saying goes, out with the old and in with the new. The most popular New Years Resolutions are exercising more to get in shape, and saving money. So let’s improve your financial shape!
Here’s 20 ways to improve your finances in 2020.
1. Set Goals
You can’t achieve financial goals if you don’t have any. Goals start you out on a path, give motivation, and a solid foundation for what you can accomplish.
Try to think of short term, medium and long term goals.
Where do you want to be financially in 3 months, 6 months, or 1 year from now?
This gives you more direction, and opportunities to assess your progress. Take pride in the success of your short term goal, and use that as extra motivation to reach your medium and long term goals.
2. Renegotiate Your Salary
The beginning of the year, or end of fiscal year in March is when annual evaluations are scheduled.
Use this time to state your case, your achievements, and why you are worth more to your employer than they’re currently paying you. Be confident. You don’t get what you don’t ask for.
Increasing your earnings is the most effective way improve your finances.
3. Start a Side Hustle
A part-time job, or making money outside of your regular place of employment is what’s known as a side hustle.
This can be seasonal work, earning money online, monetizing your skills and talents, freelancing, or even using an app like InboxDollars that pays you for watching videos or taking surveys.
There’s a wide range of ways you can explore. To get started, read our article on how to make money on the side.
4. Keep Your Lifestyle in Check
Congrats on that big bonus, or promotion, or raise in your salary. But just because you have a bit of padding in your bank account doesn’t mean you should start living a more lavish lifestyle.
Some better options would be to increase your contributions towards retirement accounts, savings account, college fund, or setting it aside in case of an emergency.
Spending your newfound cash on luxuries, expensive meals, or things you don’t need will just put you back in the same financial place you were before.
5. Build a Budget
Building a budget and plan is essential properly managing your money, saving for the future, or paying down debt.
A budget allows you to evaluate your spending habits, and make necessary changes to achieve your goals.
To improve your finances, you need to understand where your is coming and going each month.
Luckily, we’ve prepared a guide on how to build a budget, so what are you waiting for?
6. Cut Back on Expenses
Once you know your budget, it’s time to take action on it and lower your monthly costs.
We don’t mean you have to give everything up and live like a hermit, but there’s most likely things you’re paying for that you don’t need, or are paying too much for.
This could be things like an expensive tv or phone plan, dining out too much or spending too much on your groceries, or subscriptions you’re no longer using or need. I recently canceled a radio subscription I forgot I had, and didn’t use for a year. This one change alone saves me over $400 a year that I otherwise would have been wasting.
To give you some ideas, here’s a link on 10 easy ways to save money today.
7. Make a Household Money Management Strategy
Someone needs to be in charge of household money management, so why not you?
If you’re in a long-term relationship, or have a partner or spouse, discuss your financial goals and topics together. It’s best to be on the same page and work towards the same goal.
If your partner doesn’t want to assume the responsibilities, then delegate portions or categories of your money management strategy, keep tabs on cash flow, and have regular meetings (such as once a month) to discuss if you’re on track, or if there are areas with needed improvement.
8. Prepare for an Economic or Financial Crisis
Stocks go up and down, employment rates rise and fall. The economy never stays the same, so take advantage of the good times, and prepare for the bad times. We don’t know when the next economic downturn will be, but historically speaking, it’s bound to happen at some point.
Work on your spending habits now. Pay down as much debt as you can. Reevaluate your investments. Build an emergency fund equal to three to six months of living expenses.
If and when the economy goes south, you’ll be able to survive it, and be much better off when the economy picks up again.
9. Reconsider Your Cable and Phone Services
According to Fortune media, the average cost of cable and satellite services was $107 per month in 2018. You can reduce that bill by opting for a cheaper package with only the channels you most often watch, or switching to streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, or Hulu.
A report from moneysavingpro states that the average cell phone bill is $80 per month. Consider switching to a no-contract plan, prepaid plans, or a cheaper plan with a cap on data and stay connected to wi-fi to avoid fees. I saved $40 a month by switching my phone to Google Fi.
10. Protect Your Identity
There’s a victim of identity theft once every 2 seconds. With security breaches happening so regularly, it’s important to protect your personal and financial information. If someone has your personal information, they could drain your bank accounts, make large purchases on credit cards, and ruin your credit score.
Monitor your credit report for any errors, use complex passwords to your accounts, don’t share personal data with others, and keep your online hardware and software up to date.
For extra protection and peace of mind against identity theft, you can opt for a service like IdentityIQ. They will monitor your credit, alert you of any potential threats, and reimburse up to $1 million dollars of stolen funds.
11. Develop a Micro-habit Mindset
Doing small things each day can have a big impact in the long run.
A micro-habit mindset is about focusing on your finances, finding ways to stretch your dollar, and make your money more efficient.
Automate your savings, turn off your lights to save electricity, carpool to save gas, pack your own lunch, make your own coffee, go to bed earlier…
Just five little micro-habits that save you a dollar day will net you an extra $150 a month.
12. Hold Back on Holiday and Gift Spending
Let’s face it: Holidays are expensive.
Valentine’s, Christmas, Birthdays, Anniversaries…it can be a lot for our budgets to handle.
Just because a gift is expensive doesn’t necessarily make it a good gift. You don’t have to overspend.
Set a limit between you and your loved one on how much you’ll spend on each other.
Start planning for holidays early. Set a budget for the maximum amount you’ll spend, and stick to it.
Take advantage of coupons or use an app that notifies you when things on your gift list are on sale.
Spend less by shopping on major shopping holidays such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Amazon Prime Day.
13. Enroll in Employer Benefits
Some employers offer a lot of employee perks and benefits you may not know about.
Find out if your employer offers educational reimbursements, or student loan assistance.
Comparing your employer’s insurance plans with your spouse may save you a lot of money on premiums or deductibles.
If your employer offers a 401(k) or other retirement accounts with a contribution match, and you’re not taking advantage of it, then you’re just giving free money away.
14. Dine Out Less Often
It’s nearly impossible for a family of four to eat at a restaurant for less than $50. Dining out can quickly become a major expense.
Learn to cook. Turn cooking into quality time by making it a family affair.
Plan your meals ahead of time, and buy generic brands instead of the name brands.
Keep non-perishable goods in your pantry, and make enough food to eat the next day as leftovers.
A crock pot or insta-pot meal can be easy and cheap to make, nourishable, and taste even better the next day!
15. Educate Yourself
From personal finance books, apps, videos, podcasts and blogs, there’s a multitude of resources available to improve your financial knowledge on everything from budgeting, saving money, investing, taxes, and any topic you can think of.
2020 can be the year you start exploring and educating yourself on concepts and strategies to improve your finances.
You should also continually educate yourself on a personal level, to learn new skills or build on your current skill set. Attend classes or workshops, or earn additional certifications to increase your salary, chances of getting that promotion you want, and remaining employable in case of an economic downturn or layoff.
16. Make a Plan to Pay Down Your Debt
Debt is the number one reason people are living paycheck to paycheck.
Getting out of debt usually doesn’t happen overnight, but you can do it.
Which debt is on your mind the most? Do you have a high interest credit card with a large balance? Maybe you can’t wait to pay off your car? Whatever it is, make a strategy towards paying off a certain debt, then move on to the next.
Set a time frame you want to have the debt paid off by, and the monthly amount you’ll need to pay to achieve that, then automate the payments to ensure that you stick to your goal.
17. Stop Smoking
According to the CDC, the average cost for a pack of cigarettes is $6.28, and there are about 34 million adult American smokers.
Based on the average, if you smoke one pack per day, it will cost you nearly $200 a month.
Smoking has additional costs as well, such as higher premiums on health insurance, and studies have shown that smokers, on average, earn less than non-smokers.
Cutting back or quitting smoking can be a huge boost and improve your finances drastically.
18. Have Adequate Insurance
This is a tricky one, as there is also a thing called being “insurance poor.”
Take a look at your medical history. Do you often have out of pocket expenses? Have you filed disability claims and only received a portion of your income during the time you were out of work? Do you have vision or dental issues, but opted out of the extra coverage on your insurance plan?
It may be cost beneficial to choose a more expensive premium plan with a lower deductible if you have medical bills. It may also help to have supplemental coverage. Supplemental disability insurance can be pretty cheap, and in the event you find yourself out of work due to a medical reason, that extra 10, 20 or 30% of lost wage protection can pay off.
19. Turn a Blind Eye on Trends
Trends come and go in the world of finances just like anything else.
Whether it’s cryptocurrency, real estate, technology, there’s always something that seems to generate buzz as the next big thing, and if you don’t jump on the bandwagon, then you must be stupid.
The truth is, you’re better off to ignore the trends unless you have a full understanding of what it is you’re getting into.
I’ve been there. I invested in a solar company when solar technology was the big craze. Unfortunately for me, the company went bankrupt and I lost my entire investment.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Do your due diligence in research and decide if it’s a good fit you, your finances, and your lifestyle.
20. Just Say No
Sometimes saying no is the hardest thing to do.
But depending on your financial situation, it may also be the best thing you can do.
We all have people asking us for money, donations, or to buy something for charity. If it doesn’t fit into your budget, then don’t do it, and kindly turn them down. If it’s going to hinder or sidetrack you from meeting your financial goals, then you just need to walk away.
It can be hard, especially if it’s a friend or family member asking, but there are other things you can do instead.
If they’re asking for a loan or a handout, try to educate them, or sit down with them to create their budget plan and goals.
If someone is having a fundraiser, offer to tell other people you know about it, to help increase sales, without costing you a dime.
From making a plan to pay down debt, increase income with a side job, seeking financial guidance or education, there are lots of steps you can take to position yourself better financially.
Set your goals, keep them in plain sight, and be consistent with sticking to your plan, and you can improve your finances, and set yourself up for financial freedom.