13 Simple Rules to Improve Your Finances

By Kim Studdard
April 13, 2018

The average American household has over $132,000 in debt, and 69% of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings. If you feel like you too are struggling to get ahead and you’re ready to improve your finances, here are 13 simple ways to accomplish this.

Make Coffee at Home

Did you know that the average American spends $1,000 on coffee every single year, according to an Acorns report? Instead of going to the local coffee shop every day, try making your own coffee at home. You can then take the $1,000 you were going to spend and stash it away into your savings account.

Wait 24 Hours

Are you an impulse shopper? Do you find yourself buying items you don’t really need or use? Do you regret making purchases? Instead of overspending on items you may never use, try waiting 24 hours before making a purchase. If you still want the item after a day goes by, you can still buy it. However, you may forget about it or realize you don’t need it – thus saving you the money. If the product is more than $500, try waiting a month before making a decision.

Turn Off the Lights

Turning off lights in your home when you’re not using them is a great way to save energy and money. For example, when the lights are off for just one extra hour a day, you can save upwards of $200 a year. Want to take things a step further? Try unplugging kitchen appliances, computers and chargers when you aren’t using them. Why? These gadgets still use power, even when turned off, according to the Department of Energy. By unplugging your devices, you can shave as much as 10% off your monthly bill.

Save Water

While you’re saving energy, try saving your water consumption as well. Leaving the water running, taking long showers and running the dishwasher when half empty will run up your water bill. And you guessed it: this will cost you money. To curb your water usage, try setting a timer when showering, don’t run the dishwasher until it’s full, shut the faucets off immediately after you’re done using water, and make sure you don’t have leaky pipes around the house. By taking measures to limit your water use, you can save upwards of 25% on your water bill.

Have a Budget

Creating a budget doesn’t have to be complicated. But, a budget is important as it helps you stay accountable and control your spending. There are many different budget options out there. So, choose the type of budget that works for you and get started!

Start an Emergency Fund

Life happens and unexpected expenses come up. But, if you have an emergency fund, life’s inconveniences are a lot less stressful. Plus, if you’ve got the funds to pay for those emergencies, you’ll hopefully stay out of debt. Even if you don’t have money to spare, start small and start putting money into an emergency fund. After time, that fund will grow and when something comes up – like your car breaks down or you have an unexpected medical bill to pay – you’ll be financially prepared.

Cancel Unused Subscriptions

The gym membership that you never use. Those meal box deliveries that you keep meaning to cancel. We get it: life is busy and it’s easy to forget to cancel these. Well, now is the time to get rid of those unused subscriptions! Just think about it: if you have three subscriptions, costing $10 each a month, canceling those will save you $30 a month, or $360 a year.

Invest Your Change

Did you know you can save money every time you use your debit card? There are many websites and apps that invest your spare change, including Acorns, Qapital, and Stash. Better yet, you can switch to a bank account that helps you save your spare change. Chime, for example, helps you save every time you use your Chime debit card. Each time you make a transaction with your card, the amount is rounded up to the nearest dollar. The round-up amount is then deposited into your savings account automatically. This is a great way to automate your finances and save money without even thinking about it.

Have a Side Hustle

Having a side hustle is the ultimate way to pad your wallet while you still work your 9 to 5 job. A side hustle can be anything from taking surveys to freelance writing to driving for Uber. Just think: anything extra you earn can pad your savings and help you achieve your financial goals faster.

DIY Gifts & Goods

It’s the thought that counts, right? With this in mind, you don’t have to spend tons of money to buy gifts. Instead, save yourself some money and improve your finances by DIYing gifts to your loved ones. You can also use this same DIY approach when it comes to home decor. Why spend money on a new coffee table when you can buy a cheaper one at a yard sale and bling it out yourself?

Use a Grocery List

Going into a grocery store without a list can lead to impulse purchases and overspending on items you don’t really need. A grocery list not only keeps you from wasting food, but it also saves you money and time in the grocery store.

Find Free Activities

Why spend a ton of money going out on the town when you can have just as much fun on the cheap? Many cities have free or low cost activities – you just have to do a little research ahead of time. For example, try searching on your city’s website or look up events on Eventbrite. You can even check out flyers at your local community center, coffee shops, and library to see if there are any cool happenings or free concerts coming up.

Shop at Thrift Stores

Thrift shopping isn’t what it used to be. While shopping at second-hand shops used to mean finding worn out clothes and accessories, it now means uncovering fashionable steals. These days, you can find everything from clothes to furniture, all for a fraction of the price you’d pay to purchase the same items new. And just think: you can potentially save hundreds of dollars every time you update your wardrobe (considering the fact that many retailers markup their clothing by at least 200%). To find thrift shops in your area, try doing a quick search on Yelp (they’ll even have ratings) or the Local Thrift Stores website.

Final Word

As you can see, improving your finances doesn’t have to be hard or time-consuming. Just follow these 13 simple rules to save money and reach your financial goals. Your future self will thank you.

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