Prices are rising at record-breaking rates. Inflation is impacting all of us, no matter our financial situation. Even during uncertain times, smart money management is within reach when you understand how to improve your financial life. The most powerful way to succeed is to keep it simple.
We’ve learned many tips over the years through talking with clients who face some of the same challenges you might be experiencing. Here are some of our favorite – and simple — “financial life hacks” you can do to improve your financial life.
1. Dig into Your Debt
One of the most powerful financial life hacks is to save money on interest. Look at what you’re paying each month in high interest credit card debt. To understand the best approach to reducing interest fees, work with a trusted national financial counseling organization like GreenPath. Caring, certified counselors will take the time to understand your full financial picture and suggest debt payoff options that work for you.
2. Set up a Dedicated Spending Account
Set up a dedicated account to automate payment of your monthly recurring bills, such as rent or mortgage, utilities, cell phone bills, internet and other expenses. This not only simplifies the bill paying process, it also provides a way to “set it and forget it” when you automate a transfer deposit into the account each time you are paid. So if you are paid twice a month, split the number needed to cover all your expenses in half for two monthly automated deposits. You’ll reduce the chance for late feels, simplify your monthly administration tasks, and gain peace of mind when it comes to paying those monthly bills.
3. Delete Payment Info from Online Stores
Part of the reason why online stores are so successful is because they make your purchasing experience as frictionless as possible. One way they do this is by storing your credit card information so you can conveniently “one-click.” By deleting your credit card, you create an added barrier to impulse shopping that will make you less likely to spend unnecessarily.
4: Carry (and use) Cash
One of the downsides of debit and credit cards is that it makes spending seamless. This makes impulse buying that much easier, which can prevent you from keeping up with your financial goals. Studies show that people spend less when they carry cash, particularly bills that are hard to break, like $50s and $100s. To kick it up a notch, make sure to ask for new bills. The crispness makes you less likely to want to spend on unnecessary items.
5. Carry Your Purchases
Reduce the urge to overspend when you visit grocery, clothing or other stores when you opt out of using a grocery cart and physically carry your purchases. This is because the size of a shopping cart creates a psychological desire to fill it. To prevent this, opt to carry a basket rather than the cart. You’ll be less tempted to overspend.
6. Switch On LED Lights
Some people are intimidated by the higher upfront cost of LED light bulbs, but you also have to think about the long-term energy cost savings. LED light bulbs last 10 times as long as incandescent and they use about 20% of the energy. You may end up saving $100 over a single bulb’s lifetime.
7. Check Out Your Local Library
If you are a bookworm, a financial life hack is to make your hobby completely free. Rather than spend $25 or more per book, check it out from your local library. In a book club? Many libraries offer book club kits and reading guides, or will even order the book you want for their permanent collection. Libraries also offer free, family- friendly programming that you can take advantage of for family entertainment.
8. Buy (and Sell) Used
A tried and true financial life hack is to buy used instead of new. Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, neighborhood websites, yard sales, and consignment shops are great sources for gently used items like furniture, home décor, clothes, tools or even electronic devices. Have a nearly-new piece of furniture or clothing you no longer use? Consider selling your own items to make extra money.
9. Plan Your Meals
One place where people consistently overspend is by using online home delivery and takeout meals. Instead of spending $20-$25 per meal for delivered food, plan homemade meals that are quick and easy. You’ll save big bucks, particularly if you use leftovers from the night before. Cutting down on take out and food delivery can easily save you $1,000 per year!
10. Get Free Guidance
You are not alone when it comes to improving financial health and wellness. Remember, there’s no single way to achieve financial health. It’s a journey as unique as each individual is. However, there’s a lot you can learn from people who have been in your shoes before. Connect with a caring GreenPath counselor for a free counseling session. We’ll work to understand your specific challenges to uncover financial life hack tactics you can put to good use.
Adapted from an article distributed in partnership with GreenPath Financial Wellness.