When thinking about changing their finances, people often only focus on the really big changes that they can make. Paying down their student loans, driving a cheaper car, getting a raise at work. We usually ignore all of the tiny changes we could make in order to be in a better financial situation overall.
I’m not here to tell you that these things will change your entire life, or that this will be super easy, or that you’ll be financially secure tomorrow. But, I do think that you’ll be closer to your goals and it will have a significant impact on your life.
If you were to do half the things on this list, you could make some huge changes in your overall money mindset, which will help you do those bigger things!
15 Small Ways to Improve Your Finances
1. Write Down Your Goals
Taking the time to write down what you want from your money is the best first step toward financial success. It may seem silly, like how is just writing something down going to do anything?
The key is that writing it down brings it to the front of your mind, and the act of physically writing down your financial goals can honestly engrave it in your brain and you’ll think about it way more often.
There’s a long list of things you need to think about and figure out before you can really get your financial life in order, for example:
- When do you want to retire?
- How much money do you want to have at retirement?
- When do you want to purchase your first home?
- When will you pay off that home?
- How much are you willing to spend on a car?
- How much money do you need to pay for your kids college?
- and so much more
If you don’t currently know the answers to any of these questions, take a few minutes before finishing reading this article to figure it out. These are all things you need to think about before you really know where you’re going.
2. Start an Emergency Fund
What do you do currently when you need a lot of money really fast? Taking it out of investments? Savings? Or are you like most people and you just throw it on a credit card, or borrow it from family, and figure it out later?
That’s one of the worst plans for when those financial emergencies pop up, if you genuinely care about getting your finances in order and starting to build wealth. What you really need is an emergency fund that will get you ready for those unexpected emergencies.
3. Track Your Spending
Do you know where you money goes every month? Obviously, you pay your bills, and you buy groceries each week, but where does the rest go? I know for me that there are months where I spend $200 on nothing and have no idea what I bought. I didn’t need half the stuff I purchased or I waste money on junk food.
If you spend the next month of your life tracking every single penny you spend without changing your habits, you’ll see just where your money is going and you’ll question your sanity. This will definitely motivate you to change some of your silly money habits.
4. Start a Budget
Now that you actually known where your money goes, let’s turn that knowledge into a budget. I know, I know, budgeting isn’t sexy. It’s not the most fun way to live, but it’s the most intelligent way to live.
Having a budget is fun because it takes away so much of your money stress, and it lets you plan for the fun things you want to do. I promise that having a plan for every dollar it’ll make your life so much easier.
Budgeting allows you to save more money, invest more money, and just a more financially secure person. I always suggest that you start with the Zero-Based Budget!
#5 – Stop Throwing Money Away
So, after you’ve tracked your expenses and created a budget, you can really see where you’re throwing money away. There are a ton of things that we buy, that we don’t actually need to be spending money on.
Make a list of all the silly things you buy, that you don’t need to survive and just try to stop buying these once in a while. This will cut a ton of money out of your expenses.
#6 – Try Couponing
Okay, so couponing sometimes get a really bad reputation. You see those moms with their kids pushing the cart and taking 20 minutes at the check out line because they have coupons for everything. I’ve been guilty of judging these people, when really they’re the ones who are winning.
Why pay full price when a little piece of paper can save you a ton of money on the things you need? You don’t need to be a full-time couponer but you can try it once in a while and save a few dollars here and there.
If you’re not into traditional couponing, you can always get cash back on your online purchases through Ebates. I use Ebates for all my online purchases (especially Amazon) and I get a nice chunk of money in my account every few months.
#7 – Always Bring a Grocery List
Going to the grocery store without a list is budget suicide. There are so many beautiful things in grocery stores that you might think you need. So many delicious foods that will pull you in…
Having a grocery list will guide your shopping and your meal plan and will allow you to save oodles of money. You’ll know exactly what you need to buy to get through the next few days and you won’t feel the need to buy those extra snacks.
#8 – Start Investing
I’ve been wanting to start investing for years, since I turned 18. I’ve been scared of losing money and not making the right decisions. Recently, I decided to just throw some money into cryptocurrency and see what happens. I started with just $100 and I’m really excited to see what happens!
Now, investing your money is a great way to make your money work for you. You can invest in traditional stocks, in real estate, or even in the growing cryptocurrency market. Investing is an amazing long term strategy for your financial health.
#10 – Get Health Insurance
Do you know what your health situation is going to be one year from now? Are you currently insured through work? I really hope so.
If you have no work coverage or are self-employed, there is no better financial move than to get some decent health insurance. Luckily, since I’m Canadian, a lot of our basic health needs are covered by the government but that doesn’t mean you can get everything for free.
There are a ton of medical related expenses that you’re going to need to pay for over the years and not having the proper coverage can cause you some real financial doom.
#11 – Start a Side Hustle
Chances are you can use a little extra in the bank at the end of the month. Unfortunately, you probably aren’t making your ideal amount of money from your day job. The best way to combat this is to start a side hustle!
Having a job on the side is an amazing way to make tons of extra money, learn new skills, and meet new people. We love writing posts about making money on the side, here are a few of our favourites:
#12 – Listen to Money Podcasts
Just listening to people talk about money is a great way to learn more about money and think more about your money. For this reason, I’m a huge fan of financial podcasts.
I listen to them in the car, while cleaning, while working, and more. If you’re looking for some good podcasts about money I suggest the following:
- The Dave Ramsey Show
- Death, Sex, and Money
- Honest Money Conversations
- Bad With Money
All of these podcasts can teach you a ton about how to handle your money and you don’t have to devote tons of time to it either.
#12 – Read About Money
You’re already on this blog, so you’re starting off in a great place! There are times when I can go weeks without thinking about money unless I seek out the information and I’M A FINANCE BLOGGER.
If I am far enough ahead on posts and haven’t had to write for a few weeks, there’s a 100% chance I don’t think about money. It’s a great idea to subscribe to your favourite bloggers so you get that stuff right into your email inbox. Hey, if you like me, feel free to subscribe below and get awesome financial info in your inbox each week!
It’s also a great idea to be reading financial books. My favourite personal finance book is an awesome place to start.
#13 – Pay Down Debt
Paying down debt is the single best thing you can do for your future. Debt doesn’t need to be normal. You don’t need to have student loans for the rest of your life. You don’t always need to have a car payment and a mortgage.
Financial freedom is actually possible if you’re able to pay off a ton of your debt someday. If you make a good budget and have some extra money left after paying off all of your absolutely necessary expenses, you should put the rest of that money toward paying down your debt. It’ll be so beneficial in the long run, I promise.
#14 – Understand Your Credit Score
Credit scores are seriously confusing, especially if you don’t understand what makes them drop. It’s really important to be tracking your credit score and making sure you know what makes up a credit score. You can check out this post to understand a lot more about credit score.
#15 – Follow Successful People
It’s a common saying that you are the sum of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Who are your five people?
I like to think of this in terms with the people we follow on the internet as well. Are you following a ton of reality TV people who didn’t have to do much to get where they are? That won’t inspire you much to work harder and create more wealth. Following successful people is a great way to get inspired!
Some of my favourite people to follow on the internet include: Jordan Cheyenne, Jenna Kutcher, Lewis Howes, Amanda Bucci, and Angie Lee. If you have any one that inspires you on social media please leave their name in the comments! I love finding new people.
If you were to focus your next year on working on these 15 small things, you’d be surprised where your money situation can be in one year. You can do this. Are there any small things you recommend for improving your finances? Let us know in the comments!