While sure making extra money with passive income ideas with help improve the income steam that is coming in, which could afford you more life experiences or putting more towards retirement contributions so you have enough to continue living your life without worry about every penny you have, it’s what you can control in your finances that will have the biggest impact in not only getting, but staying ahead. Now is as good of time as any to start getting in control of your finances. Many have a period of reflection at the end of the year, thinking about what they could have done instead, while setting a resolution for the upcoming year, so while we’re in February, now is the time while it’s still early in the year to really making strikes at improving your finances.
Review Your Credit Report
It seems to happen often whether your card information get snatched at the gas pump, or if you leave your card out too much when paying the restaurant or bar tab, not to mention stores that are getting hacked and customer info is leaking out, you have to be protective of your information as much as you can, but sometimes it’s out of your hands. The three major credit bureaus offer a free copy of your credit report that you can view once a year to ensure everything is accurate and up to date. Beyond that, your credit card statements are now including your credit score in them so you can monitor monthly to make sure it continues to trend in the right direction.
Build an Emergency Fund
As much as you may be on top of your finances today, what would you do if you had a huge unexpected bill? If you would have to put on a credit card you are not alone, and unfortunately putting on your credit card when you don’t have the money would require monthly payments until it’s paid off, increasing your debt, having you pay interest, and probably throwing your budget out of whack. If you can put a few months’ worth of expenses into an account to have as reserves, you could give yourself a nice cushion in case there are any unexpected expenses that come up.
Stop Paying Credit Card Interest
Speaking of credit card interest, this is where you could be behind and having a hard time getting out in front. Using your credit card is fine, but if you cannot pay the full statement balance by the due date, you start to get charged interest, and depending on the card could be upwards of 16%, and depending on the balance, could be adding hundreds of dollars a month in interest, having your hard-earned money go to waste. If you can make the largest payments you can afford each month in order to really chip away at the balance, you will save plenty of money not paying interest in the long run.
Make Sacrifices to Save Money
In order to free up extra money to build your emergency fund, increase contributions for retirement, or get out of debt, sometimes you need to make the tough calls and reduce spending. This can come from anywhere from avoiding going out to each and opting for going grocery shopping and preparing your meals at home. Sure, we like to order whatever we want on the menu and have someone cook, serve, and clean up after us, but you’re likely to saving hundreds of dollars a month by skipping going out to eat and eating at home. Another cut that might hurt is something you have probably been used to having your whole life, which is cable. Now you may not think it could be possible to cancel it, but think about how much live TV you actually do watch that isn’t Netflix, and think about replacing that hundred or two hundred dollars a month with a $10 streaming service or two instead and still be caught up on your shows.
Earn Credit Card Rewards
While keeping credit card debt under control is extremely important in staying ahead on your finances, but provided you can train yourself to spend what you can afford to pay back by the time the statement comes in, using your credit card for every purchase that you were going to make anyways could earn you plenty of points and dollars back, essentially free money that you would be leaving on the table if you used your debit card or another credit card that did not offer you these great rewards.