How to Improve Your Finances in One Hour

Posted on October 16th, 2017
Business Finance Numbers

Did you know that 20% of adult Americans are confused about personal finances? That confusion often leads to a lack of action. The end result: one third of Americans have absolutely nothing saved for retirement.

So, do you want to be in the 66% with money saved up for your future? Even better, do you want to improve your chances of making smart financial choices? Believe it or not, you can set aside one hour to start making positive money moves. Take a look at 6 ways you can improve your finances right now.

Automate Your Savings

One of the easiest ways to improve your financial status is to set everything to automatic. The premise is simple: focus on what you do best, let the money take care of itself. But how exactly is that done?

A great way to start is to take advantage of Chime’s automatic savings feature. Each time you use your Chime card to make a purchase or pay a bill, the total will be rounded up to the nearest dollar and that amount will be deposited into your Chime savings account.

Here’s another way to make automating work for you: set up your IRA contributions to be deducted from your bank account on the same date each month. In fact, do the same thing with your bills and any other investments you have.

Negotiate Your Insurance

When was the last time you looked at your homeowner’s or auto insurance policy? Have you noticed rate increases? If it has been a couple of years since you last took a look, there’s a good chance that your rates have gone up without you realizing it. Depending on your particular insurance company, those increases could be substantial.

If you have an agent or a broker, a quick phone call may be all it takes to get a lower rate. In fact, a 15 minute phone call could save you considerably more than 15%.

If you can’t get a lower rate through your current insurer, you can always shop around to get a better deal at a new insurance company. Remember: switching companies can  yield the biggest savings, but negotiating with your current company can have great results as well.

Slash Your Bills

Look over your monthly expenses. Take a look at those subscriptions, plans, and otherwise recurring charges. Are there things you’re paying for that you no longer need? Are you paying for online magazines or newspapers that you never read? Does your cell phone bill make you cringe? Does your electric bill cause your stomach to turn?

In less than 30 minutes, you can come up with a list of bills to slash. Another 15 minutes and you can have a plan to cut those bills down to a reasonable size, or even eliminate them completely. With the world operating online, there is almost always a competitor that offers the same product or service for less money.

Increase your 401(k) Contributions

If your employer offers a 401(k) retirement plan, you’re likely already taking advantage of it. But to what extent? Many people contribute the minimum amount required in order to get the employer match. For most plans this caps out at three percent. It’s a start, but you can do more.

Suppose you make $5,000 per month. Increasing your 401(k) contributions by one percent means that your monthly gross pay drops by $50. But, after taxes, you really only see about a $30 drop. It doesn’t sound like much, but over the next 20 years your account value could rise by $30,000.

In 2017 you can contribute up to $18,000 into your 401(k) and your employer can put in another $36,000 – if you have a generous employer. Work toward that max.

Track Your Goals

Some say a goal without a plan is nothing more than a dream. Are you goal setting or dreaming? When it comes to money, you can create a concrete plan on how to achieve your money goals. All it takes is a pen, a piece of paper, and a few minutes of your time.

For a smaller goal, it’s as simple as taking the cost of what you want and dividing it up into monthly chunks. Start saving this amount each month and you will soon have enough money saved to achieve your goal.

For each of your long-term goals – whether you want to buy a house, purchase a boat, take a luxury vacation, retire early, or anything in between – make a savings plan and stick to it. It may take longer to save up for a big goal but with perseverance and a plan in place, you’ll eventually get there!

Consider a Side Hustle

When it comes to saving, there is only so much you can do. When it comes to earning, however, there is no upward limit. Have you gone through your finances and cut expenses only to find that you’re still struggling to improve your money situation? It may be time to capitalize on your skills.

Side hustles, or freelancing outside of your 9 to 5 job, have become incredibly popular in the past decade. As wages fail to keep up with inflation, it has become even more necessary to work a little harder, or maybe a little smarter. What starts out as a side gig could prove to be more profitable than your full-time job.

Your Most Profitable Hour

Are you ready to boost your savings and increase your income? Over the next few weeks, set aside an hour and see if these 6 options can help you improve your financial health. Maybe you can start getting ahead today.

 

This article was originally posted on Chime by Sean Bryant.

Sean Bryant

Sean Bryant

Sean Bryant graduated from the University of Iowa in Economics where he then worked at Zacks Investment research, researching and gathering financial data to help improve clients returns. He currently VP at Money Crashers, a website helping people budget and get out of debt.

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