Ever since I started earning, my finances have been largely focused upon the things that will matter later in life. Financing a home, expanding my business and saving up for retirement have always been my major financial goals. The financial improvements that I have made so far revolve around the ways to manage and save money. As someone who worries a lot about future, I have always been frugal when it comes to my lifestyle.
I thought that I was well on the path of leading a financially secure life before an unexpected fear of recession hit the economy off late. Although I had some savings, I started questioning my ability to fight the uncertainties that were expected to arise soon. Needless to say, my long term goals had certainly taken a backseat. I knew I needed to be prepared for any financial strain that I may face in the near future.
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Not all financial decisions can be taken in a minute or two. And with everything that the world is currently facing at the moment, it has become necessary to make quick financial decisions that are ultimately going to impact your finances in the next few months.
Even though financial decisions require a lot of brainstorming and time, it’s important for you to know that many decisions pertaining to your finances can be taken in less than 15 minutes and can benefit you for a long period of time. And mind you, these small financial improvements are much more than just tracking your expenses or preparing a budget. The need of the hour is to make decisions that can help you take control of your finances despite all the uncertainties.
Keeping in mind the time constraints that you must be facing right now, here’s a list of some financial improvements that you can make in less than 15 minutes in order to build yourself a life that is financially more secure than ever:
1. Automate Your Savings
Savings is undoubtedly the most important part of your finances. You need savings to fulfil all your financial goals – buying a car or a home, retirement funding or children’s education. In order to keep your savings untouched, make it a point to automate them. Alternately, you can put a certain percentage of your salary into the savings account immediately after receive your paycheck. Ever since I started following the 50/30/20 rule of budgeting, I have started automating my savings and it is till date the best financial improvement that I have made in my life.
2. Update Your Personal Finance Knowledge
Ever since I opted to study finance back in 2009, the one thing I have come to terms with is that you can never get enough of the knowledge relating to personal finance. Every piece of article and every book related to financial management would offer you something that was unknown to you. That doesn’t mean you should go on a book shopping spree. You can simply start by bookmarking a few articles and buying a couple of books to read for now. I have Personal Finance For Dummies and The Simple Path To Wealth that I go through every now and then to brush up the basics of financial management.
3. Review Your Credit/Debit Card Billing Statement
Credit Card makes it easier for us to spend money that we don’t have. While it’s easy to buy anything with a swipe of a card, what you might have been overlooking is the massive interest that you have to pay on it. If you wish to be on the better side of your finances, make sure you compare different credit card services. Choose the one that asks for the minimum interest rate for all the benefits you want.
I don’t keep credit card as I fear overspending my money. But I make it a point to have a look at my debit card statement at least twice a month. While going through my recent debit card statement, I discovered some automated expenses that I could do without. I unsubscribed half of the OTT Media services that had not been used for the last few weeks. I also switched to a cheaper cell phone plan and monthly data service.
Reviewing your credit/debit card statements will sure take away a few minutes from your precious time, but it’s totally worth the money that you will save.
4. Cut Back On Your Monthly Expenses
Frugal Living is often the most obvious and the most ignored way of improving your finances. The easiest financial improvement you can make right now is switching off the unnecessary lighting and equipment at your home. You will be surprised to know how much money you can save by simply opting for some cost effective ways of living life, like switching to a cheaper cell phone plan, cancelling the unnecessary magazine subscriptions, getting the cable charges reduced by going for a better deal.
Here are some articles on frugal living that you can read in order to cut back on your monthly expenses:
5. Make A Financial Plan
If you don’t have a financial plan yet, now is the time to make one. It will act as the much needed timeline that will help you walk towards your long term goals. Besides, it will not take more than an hour to set up a financial plan that will help you take control of your finances. The financial plan will act as a reminder for you to prioritize your goals of saving and managing your money.
So if you’ve been planning to put off making the above financial improvements for until after you have time, think again. You don’t have to wait for years to make decisions that will take just as much time as it takes you to prepare dinner. And though these small decisions won’t immediately contribute to your long term goals, it will surely impact your finances slowly and gradually as you move towards bettering your financial health.