You may have started the year off right – telling yourself that 2017 will be your chance to get your finances on the right track. But as you return to the daily grind, you may find yourself becoming less optimistic about your financial situation. Like the main character in the classic comedy “Groundhog Day”, you’re doing the exact same thing day after day and struggling to break the pattern.
Living in a financial groundhog day means something different for everyone. Let’s take a look at some of the common pitfalls that people struggle with and some pointers for getting you out of your financial rut.
Don’t Rely On Willpower Alone
It’s easy to think that if we just work a little harder on saving, or just try to spend a little less, we’ll be able to improve our financial situation. But our willpower can take us only so far. There will be times when you want to splurge or when you simply forget to save. Instead of relying on grit alone, use the following tips as a failsafe for your goals.
Increase Your Savings
If you’re having a tough time saving, you’re not the only one. In a 2016 study on saving habits, only about three of 10 Americans had over $1,000 tucked away in their savings account. And while that may seem like a lofty goal for some, it’s exceptionally important to have extra funds in case of an emergency. An unexpected car repair or a hospital bill could tap out your checking account.
What Can I Do to Save More Money?
If you find yourself struggling, find a way to automate the savings process. Digit is an app that links to your checking account, analyzing your spending habits and income. It actually looks for savings opportunities and then automatically puts your money into a FDIC-insured Digit account. I personally started Digit in January and saved $168 in the first month (without me knowing it!). Digit even sends you encouraging messages when you reach certain goals. It’s an easy way for you to start filling up your bank with the Benjamins.
Increase Your Income
You probably won’t hear anyone complain about making more money. But actually increasing your monthly income can be a challenge. And according to , even our yearly raises are barely keeping up with inflation. But one of the best ways to get out of a financial groundhog day is to put more money into your checking account.
How can I Increase my Income?
While there are many ways you could make more money, one of the fastest is to ask for a raise at work. If you’re uncomfortable about asking your boss for a boost, here are some salary negotiation tips for making your case.
And if this isn’t an option, you may need to look at additional opportunities for employment. Taking a part-time job can be a great way to stimulate some extra cash flow. And if you’re worried about your already hectic schedule, no problem. Uber drivers have the option to work whenever they want, so you can start to set aside time that you’re free to make a little extra money on the side.
And if driving isn’t your thing, check out freelance opportunities on sites like Fiverr. You can list your skills – whether that’s writing, graphic design or tax preparation – and apply for virtual work opportunities. Extra income is always within your reach if you’re looking for it.
Increase Your Investments
With the stock market hitting the 20,000 mark recently, there’s been a lot of talk about investments. And if you’re still shaking in your boots about the recession of 2008, consider that the markets not only recovered but the Dow has had an overall positive growth since it was reinstated in 1907. Sadly, the majority of Americans don’t have any of their money in stocks, which will likely be a main source of income during retirement years. To get your finances back on track, it’s wise to set up appropriate investments for you and your family.
How Do I Start Investing?
There are multiple ways to get into investing, but a good first step is to check with your employer. It’s fairly common for employers to provide a 401(k) match to investments you make throughout the year. For example, the company could chip in an additional $.25 for every $1 you add to your investments up to a certain point. In other words, if you contributed $100, your employer would add $25. Better yet, most work programs let you automate these investments, allowing a certain amount to be taken out each month.
Another good option for investing is the hit app, Acorns. Once you set up an account and make your next purchase, Acorns rounds up the amount to the nearest dollar. For instance, if you purchased a coffee that cost $1.75, Acorns would take $.25 and put that toward investments that match your risk tolerance and goals. Since it’s just the change on a dollar, you’re not likely to notice the effect on your wallet. But this change will quickly add up, allowing you to increase your investing portfolio without worrying about it.
Start a Budget
The best way to get your financial situation on the right track is simply to know how your money’s being spent. Having a budget allows you to keep track of all of your expenditures and then make a plan. It should be the foundation of any savings account, investment or plan to pay off debt.
How Do I Start a Budget?
While you could start a budget with a pencil and paper, there’s a lot of technology out there that could help you start and keep a budget. One of the most popular tools is Mint, a free budgeting website and app that can help you meet your financial goals. It will also suggest credit cards and investment accounts that match your situation. You can also look at trends happening in your net income and debt. This is a great way to monitor what’s happening in your finances.
It’s easy to get caught up in the same monthly financial mistakes. In order to actually make a difference in the way you spend and make money, you could use this advice to break the cycle. If you’re in a financial groundhog day, there are many opportunities you can pursue to make the most of the money you’re bringing home.
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