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In life, you’ll come across people with such wildly different approaches to money it kind of blows your mind.
There may not be a right or a wrong way to treat your money, but there will certainly be an approach that resonates with you the most.
You might work hard, and play hard to reward yourself in return with nice things to surround yourself with. You might work hard and squirrel your hard earned money away so you can retire sooner.
You might not really give a damn about how much money you’re making, as long as you’re happy with your lifestyle.
You might just be trying desperately to make ends meet and not thinking much about the future at all.
Whatever situation you’re in, I’m a firm believer in there always being ways you can make some wiggle-room in the way you currently spend and improve your financial situation.
You can love your job and your lifestyle and still be ready for an early retirement.
You can treat yourself to a few of the finer things in life and still consider yourself frugal (a la Michelle, the minimalist who just bought a boat!).
Below are some personal finance hacks that no matter what your circumstances are will always make you richer:
1) Learn to Love a Budget
Budgeting doesn’t sound very sexy.
Spreadsheets, counting pennies, endless maths…blah, no thanks.
The thing is though, tracking your spending is such an essential thing that when you think about it, it’s CRAZY that learning to budget isn’t a skill we’re taught as children.
If you never learn to monitor your spending (and if you’re spending more than you’re earning), how are you ever going to be rich?
Nevermind rich, how are you ever going to really save any money for your future?!
There are so many great apps out there that will easily help you track your spending in just a few minutes. A few of my favs include Mint, You Need a Budget, and Money Dashboard.
If you’ve never tracked your expenses before, I recommend going back about 2 months and then tracking for at least another month to get a good idea of your spending.
Split your spending into categories such as:
– Bills & Utilities
– Food Bills
– Family Support (do you have any dependents/elderly relatives you care for)
– Entertainment/Leisure Activities
This will give you a great idea of where your money is going, and where you may need to cut back to make some more room in your budget.
2) Put X Amount Straight in Your Savings
When you get paid, what do you do?
Do you divide up your pay into savings, essentials, and spending money, or do you just keep the full amount in your savings account for the month and review the damage when next payday rolls around?
A savvy saver will pay themselves first every time. As soon as your payday arrives, put a set amount in your savings account, whether that’s 10% of your earnings, $200 or whatever you choose.
A few things you could do with your savings:
– Put them into a high-interest savings account
– Put them into an ISA (good for if you don’t need the money for 1+ years)
– Put it into your pension account
3) Set Your Own Goals
If you’re reading this, I’m guessing that you want to save some money and eventually get a little richer – am I right?
To save money, you really need to have a goal driving you to that target. If you don’t have a goal already, try setting one today.
A few ideas could be:
– Save $1,000 extra by the end of the year
– Save up for a summer holiday
– Increase your monthly income by 10%
– Saving to buy a house
– Save $10,000 in your emergency fund
Whatever your goal is, having something to work towards will do you wonders. I always love looking back at my goals a year or so later and seeing how far I’ve come.
4) Avoid Debt
You don’t see all these personal finance bloggers talking about their amazing debt-free journeys for no reason.
Getting into debt is a bad time, and getting out of it can feel like a never-ending marathon.
There are, however, different kinds of debt, and varying levels to which you can avoid it.
A lot of people have student loan debt these days, and if you want a higher level of education, it’s pretty unavoidable.
Student loan debt is an investment in your future, and for many people, it is worth it for the job opportunities a degree gives them. If you know you will be getting into student loan debt, just be sure you actually want the degree, and that you’re not going to University because everyone else is.
Another great idea is to work while you’re a student. Even if it’s just for a day or two each week, that can be some really useful money for slowly paying off your debt early.
No one would earn a house if we all waited until we had enough cash to buy a house outright. If you want to buy a house, having a mortgage is pretty unavoidable.
Just make sure you get a mortgage loan that you can actually afford – don’t over-stretch your budget for a beautiful huge home that you don’t really need right now.
If you’re maxing out your credit card on designer handbags and fancy holidays, you’re not really being wise with your money. Likewise, if you’re paying half your wages for a fancy car that you can’t afford. This kind of debt is unwise and easily avoidable if you let go of the need for expensive material things in your life. You can find things that make you equally happy on a budget, and save yourself a lot of pennies!
5) Have an Emergency Fund
Do you have a savings account reserved for ’emergencies’?
By that, I mean do you have money that you can easily access in the event of:
– Losing your job
– Having to rent somewhere else to stay for a few months
– Paying your unexpected car/home repairs
– Buying a flight for your best friend’s wedding halfway around the way (OK – maybe not quite so specific!)
Ideally, everyone should have an emergency fund. How much should be in it? That’s down to you, but about three months wages worth seems to be the general consensus online.
If you don’t have a fund in place, or yours is looking a little slim, start adding some savings into that each month to protect yourself against the unexpected in life.
6) Always, Always Spend Less than You Earn
Spending more than you earn is a one-way ticket to eventually waking up and realising you’re cold broke. That’s just common sense.
Track your spending (yup – there’s a reason it’s point number one!), and make sure that you’re monthly spending is less than you’re monthly earnings.
Once you’ve got a good idea of how much extra you tend to have each month, you can set that set amount as money that you put into your savings at the beginning of the month – creating savings out of money you won’t even miss!
7) Make More Money
If you want to save more money, the best way to do that is to make more money. There are so many fantastic ways to make more money quickly, the real problem is picking which one to pursue!
There is only so much thinning you can do to your budget before you stop being able to enjoy yourself, so finding a way to earn more in the first place is an obvious solution.
If you haven’t created multiple income streams yet, this is a great place to start. This applies whether you’re in a full-time office job or working remotely as a freelancer, too.
From doing some overtime to building your own side hustle, there are so many ways you can earn money on the side.
Have you tried any of these personal finance hacks before? Let me know in the comments what you’re going to try!