Quickly give your finances a boost.
Most financial strategies are long-term — like saving for retirement or repaying student loan debt. But some take just a few minutes and can yield major results, fast. Here are 30 fast financial fixes you can implement today.
Automate your credit card payments.
Never miss another credit card payment again. Setting up automatic payments on your credit card will help you avoid unnecessary debt and fees or pay down any existing credit card debt — just be sure you plan ahead to have the funds available and ready to go each month.
Automate your savings.
Keep yourself on track by setting up automatic deposits into a retirement or savings account. “Automate as much as you can,” says Amy Hubble, principal investment advisor at Radix Financial LLC. “That means getting as much taken out of your paycheck as you can so you never see it.”
Boost your retirement savings.
Log in to your retirement account and increase your contribution percentage by just 1%. You won’t feel a significant pinch on your paycheck, but even a small boost in retirement savings can translate to huge earnings over time. “By saving towards your retirement today you can take advantage of the magic of compound interest over time,” Sara Kalsman, certified financial planner at Betterment, wrote in an email.
Bundle your insurance.
Some insurance companies offer significant discounts to individuals who bundle different kinds of insurance. Allstate advertises a 25% discount to those who bundle home and auto insurance policies, for example.
Check your Wi-Fi and cable bills.
Cable and Wi-Fi bills come every month and can be easily overlooked. These bills can be hefty and subject to price increases as promotions expire or service costs rise. Periodically check these bills for accuracy and to see how your fees are changing.
Close an annual fee credit card.
Some credit cards come with a large annual fee, and if you’re not getting your money’s worth, it may be time to downgrade. Consider the cash back and other benefits you received from your annual fee credit card this year, and be sure your current card still offers the most benefits for your changing lifestyle.
Cut the cable.
If you’re still using traditional cable, it may be time to cut the cord. Add up the costs of streaming services like Netflix and Hulu or review alternatives to cable like YouTube TV to see if you can watch your favorite shows without the hefty cable bill.
Determine whether you qualify for free tax filing.
Guided tax preparation doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, if your adjusted gross income was less than $73,000 in 2021, you may qualify for the Internal Revenue Service’s Free File program and can file for free this year.
Download a budgeting app.
Get your overspending under control with a budgeting app like Mint or Simplifi by Quicken. Once you know your expenses, “then you can start digging down deeper to find the things in there that are nice to have but that you don’t really need to do,” says Jamie Ebersole, founder and CEO of Ebersole Financial LLC.
Drop the home phone.
You may still have a home phone, but do you use it? Consider suspending a home phone plan and instead stick to your cellphones to save money.
Enroll in a high-yield checking and savings account.
These days, the annual percentage yield for savings accounts are usually below 0.1%. Put your money to work by opening a high-yield checking or savings account that offers a better yield for your money.
Fast-track your debt payoff goals.
Log in to your credit card, mortgage or student loan account and make a small payment on your debt today. Putting any extra money, like a bonus or tax refund, toward your debt will help you chip away at the principal and become debt-free faster.
Find unclaimed cash.
A business, government or other entity may owe you money without you knowing. Check to see if you are owed any unclaimed money by searching databases like your state database or the Department of Labor’s database.
Get a quote for life insurance.
If you don’t have life insurance, consider how your circumstances have changed and whether more protection is needed. “Think about if you have that protection in place, to the extent it is warranted,” Ebersole says. “Start to go down that checklist: You’re saving, you have an emergency fund in place, and you have all the protections you need, whether it’s for property you own or life insurance.”
Getting bank and credit card statements by mail can delay your response to errors and cause disorganization, aside from simply being a waste of paper. Consider going paperless when it comes to your finances — including documents like an investment prospectus or utilities bill.
Identify a financial goal.
Take the time to reflect on your finances and identify a new financial goal. This goal should be measurable, align with your values and be adjusted to fit with your current lifestyle.
Inflate your tires.
It’s a small step, but inflating your tires can actually save you money by improving your gas mileage and helping you avoid any damage to your car caused by low tire pressure.
Look at your tax refund.
Receiving a large tax refund can feel great, but it can also be a sign that your W-4 withholdings need to be adjusted. Talk to your human resources department about updating your W-4 with new information about how your financial and personal situation might have changed.
Phone your cable company.
Your cable package is likely negotiable. Call your cable company once a year to see how your bill can be reduced.
Raise your insurance deductible.
If you’re comfortable taking a little more risk, consider raising your auto insurance deductible. You’ll have to cover a larger amount of future repairs, but you’ll benefit from a lower premium in the meantime.
Ramp up contributions to your health savings account.
By increasing your contributions to your health savings account, your taxable income is reduced — which can mean a larger refund come Tax Day.
Rethink the gym.
Make sure all of your recurring membership payments are actually being used. “We all have things that creep in, like a membership to something we don’t use anymore,” Ebersole says. “Just be thoughtful about what’s not important, what’s not in use.”
Request a credit-limit increase.
Use a raise at work to justify a credit-limit increase on your credit card. Having a higher limit can ultimately help improve your credit score over time — but keep in mind that increasing your credit limit can cause your credit score to drop a bit at first.
Request a free credit report.
Know where you stand by requesting a credit report each year. Federal law requires major credit reporting companies to provide you a copy of your credit report every year for free, so take advantage and check your report for any errors.
Review your credit card statement.
Reading your credit card statement closely each month can make obvious any areas of overspending as well as ensure every charge is accurate. Taking a look at your statement can also be a good way to understand your expenses to build a budget.
Start a virtual piggy bank.
A virtual piggy bank is an online tool for setting aside your spare change digitally. You can set one up for yourself or your child, and most virtual piggy banks exist in the form of apps on your phone to make setting aside money easy and convenient.
Your bank might not be meeting your needs anymore. Some offer better deals for younger savers and students, while others have great deals for people over 65 years old. Compare interest rates and consider moving your funds to a bank that better serves your current financial situation.
Take advantage of employer benefits.
Employer benefits like a 401(k) match should be seen as part of your compensation. “Many employers have a matching program for retirement plans, which, in essence, means free money,” Kalsman says. “If you’re fortunate enough to receive a match from your employer, each dollar you contribute to your 401(k) is by default a 100% return on your investment.”
Talk to a friend about money.
Talking about money can be a social taboo, but you don’t have to suffer in silence. “Don’t go it alone: Another way to stay motivated is to find someone else to help hold you accountable,” Kalsman says. “Do you have a sibling saving up for a car? A friend paying off student loans? Team up with them and make a plan to check in regularly.”
After reviewing your credit card statements, make a list of the subscriptions you’re not currently using and unsubscribe to avoid a drain on your wallet.
Tips to repair your finances fast:
— Automate your credit card payments.
— Automate your savings.
— Boost your retirement savings.
— Bundle your insurance.
— Check your Wi-Fi and cable bills.
— Close an annual fee credit card.
— Cut the cable.
— Determine whether you qualify for free tax filing.
— Download a budgeting app.
— Drop the home phone.
— Enroll in a high-yield checking and savings account.
— Fast-track your debt payoff goals.
— Find unclaimed cash.
— Get a quote for life insurance.
— Go digital.
— Identify a financial goal.
— Inflate your tires.
— Look at your tax refund.
— Phone your cable company.
— Raise your insurance deductible.
— Ramp up contributions to your health savings account.
— Rethink the gym.
— Request a credit-limit increase.
— Request a free credit report.
— Review your credit card statement.
— Start a virtual piggy bank.
— Switch banks.
— Take advantage of employer benefits.
— Talk to a friend about money.
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