If you are one of the 60% of Americans that do not have a budget, you are probably in need of a financial overhaul. We want to help you improve your finances in only ten days. Follow these steps, and you will start to see the positive changes pretty quickly:
Day 1: Set your goals. I want to buy a house, I want to pay off my student loan debt, I want to boost my 401(k) contributions, etc. Figure out what your goal is so that you will be motivated to achieve it. Write down what you want and look at it throughout the day so that your goals are at the forefront of your mind.
Day 2: Assemble a support network. Talk to your mom, brother, wife, or friend about your goals so that they can keep you on track. Ask that person to hold you accountable for the amount you want to save and have them check in on you periodically to keep you honest. If you’re going to keep your saving goals exclusive from friends and family, we have come across such a fantastic tribe of supportive people on social media that want to help you achieve your goals. Follow and interact with the personal finance network to stay in line. Check out Rockstar Finance for ideas!
Day 3: Make a list of your expenses and budget. Look at what you need to spend, then look at the extras that you can’t live without. Utilities, rent, car payments, insurance, etc. Then factor in consumer goods like groceries and clothes. Life is about balance, so remember to budget for your morning coffee but not splurge on a designer watch.
Day 4: Plug it into an app. We use Mint religiously to track and monitor our expenses. It is a good barometer to show where you are over-spending. Besides Mint, there are so many automatic savings apps on the market these days which can alert you to your spending, so no one has an excuse to not be tracking expenses to help improve your finances.
Day 5: Make it a game. After I do my expenses and budget, I make it a game to come in under-budget every week. Spending plans that are too restrictive don’t work for me, so I give myself a little bit of cushion and then play up to my competitive side by trying to come in under. I put any surplus toward savings and compare it against how I did last time.
Day 6: Plan for the worst, expect the best. You never know what could happen in your life. Lose your job, get a promotion, lose a loved one, get married. Life is all about checks and balances, so the best way to be prepared for anything is to plan for the worst and expect the best. Look at your benefits, your life insurance, and take a peek online at some financial planning help. It might seem like gibberish to you, and you may not think you need it, but it is better to do it now than when you really are desperate.
Day 7: Automate that stuff. Americans are busy, stressed out, working long hours, trying to keep up a social life, fit in those workouts, etc. The last thing we feel like doing after all of that is manually paying bills and moving money into savings. Automate your rent, bills, and savings so that you have more time for the essential things in life.
Day 8: Invest those savings. This is the most integral step to improve your finances and to get your financial life together. We believe it is necessary to have an emergency stash of cash. But you won’t really see a difference in your finances until you start investing and watch that investment grow over time. Compounding is the most basic and comfortable concept but so many people do not take advantage. Keep some money in your emergency fund but invest the rest (Stockpile can help).
In only eight days, you can make an actionable plan to improve your finances and overall financial health. Go get started!