Yesterday, I discussed how anyone can turn their financial life around if they just take that first step – the first step is always the hardest one. After that, you start taking more and more little steps and before you know it, your financial life is getting better and better.
What follows is the list of 5 steps to take. Each of these tactics are simple little moves you can make to improve your financial situation. Some of them take just a few minutes, others might take an hour or two, some of them require a bit of regular effort, but they’re all incredibly simple – anyone can do them. Each of them also save significant money, especially over the long haul, and when combined together these tips can save you a lot of money now.
Obviously, not all of these tips will apply to everyone. Just go through the list and find ten or fifteen that do apply to you and use them in your life – you’ll quickly find yourself saving some serious scratch.
1. Switch your bank accounts to a bank that respects you. You shouldn’t be spending your hard-earned money on maintenance fees – you also should be earning some serious interest on your checking and savings accounts. I use ING Direct as my primary bank – I earn roughly 3% on my checking account and 3.4% on my savings account and they’ve never dinged me with a fee. Here’s a guide on how to make that switch.
2. Turn off the television. One big way to save money is to watch less television. There are a lot of financial benefits to this: less exposure to guilt-inducing ads, more time to focus on other things in life, less electrical use, and so on. It’s great to unwind in the evening, but seek another hobby to do that.
3. Turn a critical eye to your “collections.” Most people collect something – what do you collect? Is it something that consistently brings you joy? Or is it something that you just do out of habit at this point? Does the collection itself have value? Could you perhaps “trim the fat” from this collection by getting rid of duplicates or getting rid of the items you no longer use? Also, could you perhaps cut down on your spending on that hobby? Focus on trimming the things you don’t feel strongly about – if you dig into things that bother you, you’re going to eventually relapse.
4. Sign up for every free customer rewards program you can. Even if you rarely shop at that place, having a rewards card for that place will eventually net you some coupons and discounts. Here’s the basic game plan for maximizing these programs: create a Gmail address just for these mailings, collect every card you can, and then check that account for extra coupons whenever you’re ready to shop.
5. Make your own gifts instead of buying stuff from the store. You can make food mixes, candles, bread, cookies, soap, and all kinds of other things at home quite easily and inexpensively. These make spectacular gifts for others because they involve your homemade touch, plus quite often they’re consumable, meaning they don’t wind up filling someone’s closet with junk. Even better – include a personal handwritten note with the gift. This will make it even more special than anything you could possibly buy down at the mall, plus it saves you money.