With the start of a new year, almost everyone is trying to make those lasting changes that will better their lives. One of the most important resolutions you can make is to get your finances in order.
For many, this seems a daunting task. There are budgets to be made and adjusted, credit cards to pay off, and savings accounts to be built.
However, with just a little creative thinking, you might be on your way to greater financial stability more easily than you would think.
Here I’ll discuss five different steps you could take toward getting back on your feet financially. There are three easy ways you can cut costs, and two ways you can add some income. With just a few small changes in these areas, you might see some drastic changes in your financial life.
Cutting costs can be painful. It’s hard to give up the thing you love or are used to having. However, it’s sometimes necessary to do so in order to achieve the goals you have. And remember, the ultimate goal is that you would be in a position to afford all those things you love without worry.
Cutting costs doesn’t necessarily have to be painful, though! Here are just a few things you could change that might drastically impact your journey to financial stability.
1. Get organized.
There are plenty of software out there that is easily installed or downloaded on your computer, such as Quicken. Obviously, if you are short on funds, you may want to go with something like Mint first, as it is free and easy to access online.
Once you’ve entered all your financial information, you will be able to track and categorize spending, view your progress on monthly charts, and have an overview of how your money is being spent and saved. This is a great starting point for making a budget and cutting costs, as it enables you to see what areas may be causing problems for your financial stability.
2. Try a cash system.
You might not realize it, but swiping that credit or debit card for every purchase might be causing you to go over budget. Instead, you could take out all the cash you need for this pay period’s expenses, and keep track of how much you spend. This will give you a greater awareness of how much you have left and cause you to be more careful.
3. Put a time limit on it.
Committing yourself to certain amount of time keeps the task from seeming too overwhelming. Not only will this save you money for that amount of time, but it will probably inspire you to continue to save.
Maybe you commit to one month of only spending a certain amount per week on groceries. Or perhaps you say no to new clothes for the next 3 months. You might cancel your cable for 6 months.
Anything seems doable for a short amount of time. And chances are, once you’ve started, it’ll be easier to continue to cut costs as you see that savings account grow and those debts being paid off.
Making Extra Income
Although cutting costs is a great way to start working toward a more financially stable life, many people don’t realize that you might be able to make money rather than cutting it out.
If there are things you’d rather not cut out of your budget, or you simply aren’t able to, there are a couple of easy things you could try in order to add income to cover the deficit in your budget.
4. Market a skill.
Many people have skills and talents that they are under-utilizing. Think about something that comes easily to you, but might not be so easy for someone else.
By marketing that skill, you could bring in some extra money to help cover your costs.
Perhaps you are able to edit, and could offer your proofreading skills online. There are many sites that need skilled editors to manage their content.
Maybe you speak a second language or have excellent math skill and could make a little extra cash tutoring students.
Or maybe you love fitness. With a few weekend courses you could become a licensed fitness instructor and teach classes at your local gym.
Whatever the skill, there may be a way for you to market it. This might take some creative thinking or a little extra work time on your part, but it may be worth it to add a little income to your monthly budget.
5. Sell what you have.
Believe it or not, many people are just sitting on extra cash and they don’t even realize it. Most of us have unused items in our homes. With just a little work, you could both de-clutter your home and bring in some much needed money at the same time!
Do you have a closet full of unwanted clothes? Try using Thredup, a free online service that enables you to clean out that closet. Simply order a clean-out bag online, fill it up once you’ve received it in the mail, and send it back!
Maybe you have collections that you could try selling. For example, if you have a coin collection you no longer want, you could go to Golden Eagle Coins and sell it to someone who does want it. There are many sites like this where you could trade in those stamps or baseball cards or any other valuable collection and earn some much needed cash.
If you simply have a random assortment of unwanted items, you could use Ebay, a site on which you can sell anything and everything. With a little bit of research and reading on their site, you can learn how to easily and safely sell your unwanted items to bring in some extra money.
If you want to skip the hassle of shipping, you can list items on your local Craigslist site. This is especially useful if you are interested in selling bigger items, such as furniture.
Another way you could sell locally is to bring unwanted clothes to a consignment store. Just be aware that some places pay a certain amount upfront, but others pay once an item sells, so you may need to wait a while.
There are many ways you can approach making changes in your budget.
Let 2016 be the year you get those finances in order. Next year you could be resolving to take a great vacation or get that new car you desperately need. Whether cutting costs or adding income, this is a great time of year to evaluate and make changes to your financial situation.