Most people could stand to improve their approach to and knowledge of personal finances. If you really want to revamp your financial life, it’s best to start with a big-picture overview of your situation and spend some time creating a strategy for improvement. However, you don’t always have the time or the wherewithal for that. There are actually a number of things that you can do in under an hour that can bring big improvements to your financial life today.
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Change Your Banking Behavior
How does your bank treat you? Do you deal with a lot of service charges? Would you like an interest-bearing checking account? You can take the time to research other banks and open an account at one that is more favorable for you financially, and you don’t have to close your existing account to do so. Another thing you may want to consider is having some of the money that is directly deposited into your checking account automatically debited to your savings account. You can use this to build up a liquid emergency savings fund with three to six months of living expenses in it.
Reduce Your Spending
Choose one or two things that will reduce your spending. This could mean pledging to cook at home more or go clothes shopping less often, but there are other, less obvious ways to save money as well. Having student loan refinancing as an option can bring down your monthly payments on existing student loans, and it doesn’t take long to see what lenders can offer you and find a payment plan that suits you. You can put the money that you save toward retirement, other investments, or your emergency fund.
Set Up or Increase Retirement Account Savings
Dealing with your retirement can become one of those things you’re going to do someday. Unfortunately, retirement also comes someday, and procrastinating on starting to save now is simply throwing money away because the earlier you start, the more that money can grow. If your workplace has a plan and you haven’t signed up for it, it will take you less than an hour to sit down with the person responsible for benefits at your company and complete it. Alternately, you can open an IRA at your bank. Any amount that you start with, however small, is better than nothing.
Teach Yourself Something
Most people have a lot to learn about the world of personal finance, and the prospect of learning all of that can be daunting. But you don’t have to try to take it all in at once. Whether you have 45 minutes, half-hour, or 10 minutes, pledge to teach yourself one thing about personal finances, whether it’s learning about a particular investment strategy, downloading an app that will help you track your spending, or teaching yourself some financial vocabulary. Not only will this help with personal finance, but math can help in your career as well, so the learning is doubly beneficial. Try doing this when you have a little free time instead of turning to social media or other distractions, and before you know it, you will have accumulated a great deal of knowledge about how to better manage your financial life.