Is this the year you get smart with your spending and saving? Are you tired of feeling like you're always one paycheck away from financial disaster? Do you want to make changes in how you manage your money? Getting smart with your finances is easier if you develop a strategic approach to improving your fiscal lot in life.
Review the following five marvelously manageable financial tips to improve your personal finances in 2020 to see which tips can set you on a path toward financial freedom in the future.
Set Specific Savings Goals For Each Paycheck
If you want to increase your financial fitness in 2020, it is imperative you get specific with your goals. Set a target goal for each paycheck to see how much cash you can put aside for savings. Instead of telling yourself “I want to put aside more money this paycheck than last paycheck,” focus on a financial commitment. Create a plan, and if say your goal is $50 a paycheck, be sure to allocate that to savings first. Taking the money off the plate early is a good way to keep you from spending it later on.
Track Your Progress on a Weekly Basis
If you want to get better at managing your money, you must be willing to track your progress on a weekly basis. It's not enough to want to get better at managing your finances; you must be prepared to put in the work to become more fiscally sound. Monitor your money management efforts each week and review your progress on everything from reducing your expenses to increasing your income. Popular apps like Mint and Personal Capital have excellent tools that will let you track your spending electronically. You can setup Mint to give you alerts and provide you with a weekly summary of your expenses. This makes it easy to track your progress and see if you are lowering your expenditures over time.
Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck
If you want to significantly improve your personal finances in 2019, you must stop living paycheck to paycheck. Try earning a little bit extra each month so you can build up a financial cushion in your bank account. Work a second part-time job, become a freelancer-for-hire on the weekends, or develop a side-hustle business to improve your economic situation.
If your schedule is busy between work and family, you can still find ways to earn money. If you have good writing skills you can find plenty of opportunities online to get paid to write articles. Writing not your strong suite? No worries, you can make extra money online taking surveys. In addition, you should take advantage of apps that allow you to earn cash back on the purchases you are already making. With Rakuten you can earn cash back on over 2500 online retailers. Another good option is Ibotta. With Ibotta you can earn cash back on both your grocery purchases and online purchases.
Develop a Debit Versus Credit Strategy
Develop a plan of action regarding your cash and credit card expenditures. Set ground rules for yourself as to which monthly purchases you'll pay for in cash or debit, and which ones will be charged to your credit cards. When you make the effort to develop a debit versus credit strategy, you learn good spending habits to control your impulse purchases. If you find that you tend to make large purchases you cannot afford, it may be best to use debit cards that draw on your bank account. Having a hard limit in place can make you think twice about those purchases.
However, if you are disciplined enough to go with a pay as you go strategy, rewards credit cards can be another source of income. While some debit cards (like Discover Cashback Debit) offer 1% cash back rewards, you can generally score higher returns with credit cards. It may be wise to start with debit cards, and then transition to using credit cards once you learn to manage your spending.
Also credit cards have other benefits like disputing transactions, improving credit score for paying your bill in a timely manner, and better liability for lost or stolen cards. My general approach is if the expense can be paid with a credit card and I can earn rewards cash, then I use credit. Otherwise I just use direct debit or debit cards for expenses. But again this strategy only works if you track your expenses, and pay your credit card in a timely manner to avoid finance charges.
Watch for Financial Innovation
Pay attention to the innovation happening in the financial technology sector. Search online for terms like #fintech or #fintech #startup. You'll be amazed at how many new financial technology products and services are being launched for consumers wanting to improve their personal finances. From smart banking solutions to credit repair services, today's financial technology startups offer a myriad of tools you can use to become more financially secure.
Integrate these five super simple tips into your money management practices and 2020 might become your best year yet. It won't be easy to change your spending habits, but the hard work will be worth it when you see your bank account grow and your debts decline.