Ideally, improving your personal finance is a big-picture project. You would sit down and work out exactly how much money is incoming and outgoing, list your short, medium, and long-term financial goals, and make a budget. However, sometimes you just need a jump start, either because you have a lot of anxiety about your finances and you don’t want to look at them or you’re just struggling with procrastination for some other reason. One fast but substantial step can help shift your mindset about your financial situation and make it easier to proceed.
Open an Emergency Savings Account
Have you ever heard that you need an easily liquidated emergency fund in case you run into any unexpected expenses, such as medical co-pays? Whether or not you have, you might have thought of this as something you could set up at some point when you had a significant amount of money you could deposit in an account at once. In fact, you can start with whatever the minimum is to open a savings account with your current bank. You may be able to do this online. Even if you start with just $25, you now have a place to stash a small amount of money every time you’re paid, and the fund will grow.
Save Money on Your Debts
Are you paying off credit card or other debts? Save money by finding out how you can lower your payments. If you have a credit card balance, you could try calling the company and asking if they will lower your interest rate. Some companies will agree if you are a solid customer. Alternatively, you could look for a card with a balance transfer offer. Some cards offer 0% interest on balance transfers for a short time, such as six months. This can be a great way to pay off your card quickly. Also, see if you can refinance student loans with NaviRefi. Your monthly payments may be lower, and you could put the savings toward your emergency account.
Give Up One Thing
Here’s another small gesture that will help you save: give up one thing. Maybe it’s a daily to-go coffee, maybe it’s in-app purchases, or maybe it’s a streaming service you don’t take advantage of very often. Whatever it is, pledge to take that money and move it into your savings until you’ve reached your emergency funding goal.
If you’re not already signed up to your company’s retirement plan, do that paperwork now. But there are other ways that you can invest as well, even if you don’t know much at all about the topic. You can set up a brokerage account online. This doesn’t take as much time or money as you may need as little as $100 to get started, and you can allow a robo-advisor to select a portfolio for you based on some information gathered about you. Unless you really plan to get into playing the stock market, the best thing to do in most cases once you’ve parked some money somewhere is to leave it alone for a while.