Whether you’re thinking about a home renovation, want to save for your next vacation or are planning ahead and thinking about the future, stepping up your financial game is never a bad idea. Your overall wealth and financial prowess is directly correlated to so many things in your life, why would you want anything less than a stellar record?
Yet, so many Americans struggle with their financial game. Stumbling with poor credit reports, making unwise lending decisions, overextending ourselves … the list goes on. When you’re ready to put your foot down and take control, what can you do?
Let’s take a look at some of the ways to step up your financial game:
#1: Make Friends With Your Credit Report
If you’re not actively monitoring your credit report, you should head to annualcreditreport.com and grab your free copy today. You’re entitled to receive one report every twelve months from each of the credit reporting agencies (Transunion, Experian, and Equifax).
When you’re actively monitoring your credit report, you’ll be able to spot inaccurate information, catch any identity theft issues, and you’ll begin to learn how various financial decisions impact your score. There is also a wealth of different credit monitoring platforms online that allow you to view your report each month. This becomes useful if you’re taking steps to improve your credit and want to see how little changes can impact your score.
#2: Don’t Just Accept the Norm
It’s a pretty common practice for us to find an insurance company, cell phone plan, or service provider and then stick with them for years, never asking for a discount or re-quote. Maybe we just get busy or maybe we don’t like change … but when you just go with the flow, you’re potentially missing opportunities to save.
Make it a point to review the current policies you have in place around your yearly renewal dates. You may be surprised where you can save when you’re searching for better prices and better plans. It should be noted that this review should not be limited to insurance policies, but should cover pretty much anything where you have a monthly or yearly bill.
When was the last time you called your cell phone carrier, cable company, or Internet service provider and asked if there were any promotions or plans that could save you money?
#3: Is it Time to Refinance?
If you’ve had your mortgage for a while, you may or may not have thought about refinancing your home. Perhaps you have, but didn’t quite make the leap. With mortgage rates reaching all time lows over the past few years, it would not be uncommon to refinance your home to lower your rate, lower your current mortgage payments, or even cash-out some equity to make home improvements or to pay off debt. Fill out this quick form to check the rates in your area.
#4: Are You Taking Advantage of Your Retirement Accounts?
Retirement – no matter what your age – should always be on your radar. It sneaks up quickly and, without some pre-planning, can throw your finances for a loop. Will you have enough to live worry-free? It’s important to max out your contributions each year to take full advantage of your retirement savings. Not sure how much you’ll need? Take a look at this calculator from CNNMoney to give you an estimate and to make sure you’re thinking long-term!
#5: Be Smart With Your Spending
If you really want to know where your money is going, take a nice long look into your current spending habits. Luckily for most of us, credit card companies are nice enough to include this information online or through their apps. The folks at DailyWorth also have a great list of apps for money management.
If most of your charges are made up of shopping and eating out, you would probably benefit from cutting those expenses back. So, you bag a lunch a day or two during the week, it has to be healthier than that burger and fry combo you and your co-worker get on Fridays. The point? Look for places in your spending that you can adjust to save more money. The savings can be used to pay down debt, invest in your retirement accounts … the list goes on. It may not be something you want to do, but when retirement sneaks up on you – or you want to make a big purchase - you’ll be patting yourself on the back!
If you’ve done all of the above, take a look at these additional tips:
- Make it your goal to set aside at least 10 percent of your income for savings or investing.
- If your employer offers contribution matching or employee sponsored pension plans, always contribute the maximum amount. It’s basically free money!
- Use coupons and send in rebates to take advantage of any saving opportunities.
- Make sure you shop around. Don’t buy the first thing you see, hear, or learn about. This includes homeowner’s insurance, flood insurance, life insurance, and so forth.
- Remember, it’s okay to use your credit cards, especially if they offer bonus points, miles, or cash back. Just remember that you should only charge what you can immediately pay off. No one wants to pay interest changes or penalty fees.
If you’re completely lost and don’t feel you can handle making these changes for your future, consider getting together with a financial planner to kick start your financial game. And don’t forget that you can always contact one of our specialists here at Lenda for some additional tips for saving money and how you may be able to find additional savings through a refinance.
Connect with us today and let’s get your financial future in order!