A month can make a huge difference to your personal finances. While there are some financial goals that will be long-term works in progress, there are a number of simple money moves you can make in the next 30 days that can set your personal finances on the right track.
Steps to Manage Your Personal Finances
Keeping tabs on your personal finances can feel like an overwhelming task, but it is important to stay on top of your budgets to make sure all of your accounts are healthy.
Don’t feel like you have to overhaul your finances overnight, making a couple changes can be enough to set you toward a brighter financial future. Try choosing one or two simple moves this month to see if you can make small steps to improve your financial health.
If you feel yourself starting to get stressed just remember that when it comes to these moves you’re seeking progress, not perfection—every little bit helps. Here’s a look at some moves you can choose to help make this month count:
1. Setting Financial Goals
If you’re feeling ambitious, and haven’t done so already, set long-term goals like saving for retirement or a child’s education. An end goal helps you understand how much you have to save now to meet financial needs in the future.
Setting short-term goals can be helpful too. Maybe you’re saving for a new car in the next five years, or maybe you just want to set up a spreadsheet to track your budget by the end of the month.
2. Creating a Budget
Building out a monthly budget may take a little bit of time, but it’s worth it. Start by tallying up your necessary expenses such as housing costs, utilities, insurance, transportation and groceries, and subtract that amount from your monthly income. Put what’s left toward paying down debt, savings, and discretionary spending.
3. Setting Up Direct Deposit
Sick of going to the bank to deposit your paycheck? With direct deposit your employer will send your pay directly to your bank account.
Then set up an automatic transfer so that you’re saving a portion of your paycheck every month.
4. Increasing Retirement Contributions
If you’re eligible to participate in a company 401(k) plan, increase contributions to at least receive your employer’s matching funds, if they offer a matching contribution.
Each matching contribution will vary by company, about 40% of companies contribute 50 cents for every dollar contributed, up to 6%. Any amount can accelerate your retirement savings goals so be sure to take full advantage of matching contributions your company offers.
5. Making $10 or $25 in Spending Cuts
Look for small expenditures you can cut so you can direct extra cash to saving or paying down debt. Maybe you cut the now proverbial morning latte and make coffee at home. Or maybe you just bring lunch to work one day a week instead of eating out.
6. Looking for Helpful Apps
A well-designed app can help you meet your financial needs more easily, whether it’s keeping track of your budget, savings, or even something that will pay your bills for you. Check out SoFi Relay® where you can track all of your money in one place.
7. Negotiating Your Bills
Call service providers to ask about lowering your monthly bills or see if there are discounts or cheaper services you could take advantage of.
When you call, remember to be courteous and firm. Check out competitors’ rates, and if they’re lower, use them as a bargaining chip in your conversation.
8. Reviewing Insurance Policies
Do you have enough insurance to cover your needs? Do you have too much? Review your policies and add or subtract coverage as necessary. While you’re at it with your insurance, look around for providers that offer the same coverage for less money.
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9. Checking Your Credit Score
Your credit score is a number that represents your creditworthiness. Lenders will look at it to determine whether they are willing to let you borrow money. Anything above 700 is typically considered a good score. If you fall below that number, you may want to consider ways to improve, such as paying off debt.
10. Checking Your Credit Report for Potential Mistakes
Once a year, you can request a free credit report from the major credit reporting bureaus—Experian, Transunion, and Equifax. Pull your report and check it for mistakes that could be negatively affecting your credit score.
11. Looking for Credit Cards that Offer the Best Rewards
Make your spending work double for you with credit cards that offer rewards that match your lifestyle. If you love to travel, find a card that offers travel rewards. Beware: Some rewards cards carry high-interest rates and annual fees. If you’re not someone who pays their card off every month, it is probably worth steering clear of these.
12. Planning Something with Credit Card Points
Your credit card rewards aren’t helping you if they’re just sitting there. So have some fun and plan a trip or a new purchase with the rewards you’ve accumulated.
13. Considering Refinancing Your Loans
If you have outstanding loans, such as a mortgage or student loan debt, consider refinancing at a lower interest rate.
A lower rate could help you save money in the long run and you may even be able to accelerate your repayment, depending on the terms you select when you refinance.
14. Selling Some Stuff
Have you hopped on the KonMari craze and you’re busy ridding your house of things that don’t bring you joy? Consider selling the items you no longer need. Thank them for their service and for the extra cash they put in your pocket.
15. Considering Cutting Bad Habits
This could be a toughie but also a twofer. The cost of bad habits can really add up. Consider that the price of a pack of cigarettes for cash-strapped New Yorkers is $13 or more.
If you’ve been meaning to quit, use savings as an incentive to do so. You’ll save money and potentially get on the road to a healthier you.
16. Talking about Money with Your Partner
Set aside some time to discuss finances with your partner. If appropriate, discuss goals for your money, spending habits, who expects to pay for what, debts, etc. Conversations like these help make sure you’re on the same page and can help head off conflicts over money in the future.
17. Figuring Out Your Market Value
Has it been a while since you’ve had a raise? Determine your market value with online tools like Glassdoor or with career coaches at SoFi. This will put you in the position to ask your boss to pay you more, or find a job that will.
18. Negotiating Credit Card APR
If your credit cards carry a high-interest rate ask about getting it lowered to help you manage your debt. It’s possible they’ll say no, if you have a low credit score, for example.
But, even a no is useful information. The credit card company should be able to tell you what you can do to make lowering your interest rate more likely.
19. Using Your FSA Funds
If flexible spending accounts (FSAs) are part of your employee benefits package, be sure to use them by scheduling doctors appointments or making qualified purchases. Money in these accounts may not carry over year to year, so if you don’t use it, you lose it.
20. Canceling Unused Subscriptions and Memberships
Are there stacks of unread New Yorkers piling up on your kitchen table? Did you sign up for a gym as part of your New Year’s resolution and then stop going by mid-month? Find extra savings by canceling unused subscriptions.
21. Talking to a Financial Planner
When it comes to making money moves, you don’t have to go it alone. A financial planner can help you develop your goals and then come up with strategies to help you reach those goals. They’ll help you determine the steps you should take right now to set your finances on track.
22. Considering a New Account
As you start taking steps to improve your financial health this month, evaluate your current account and see if there are any options that may be a better fit.
If you’re ready to make a switch, consider a SoFi Checking and Savings® account.
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