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Budgeting, Paying Off Debt, and Savings: 5 Ways to Improve Your Finances

Undoubtedly, the best way to improve your financial situation is to make more money, but that’s not all it takes to have better finances. You also need to save as much money as you possibly can, and this is closely linked to budgeting and paying off any debts you may have. Here’s a look at five ways to help you improve your finances.

#1: Create a Budget

You probably hear this tip all the time, and it’s with good reason. Creating a budget is more than just putting a limit on how much you spend— it also helps give you more insight into your spending habits. When creating a budget, you first need to write down what you’re already spending your money on. This will help you see where you’re already spending.

The next thing you need to do is make a category of wants and needs, and your needs should take priority. Needs include your basic needs and other things that may not necessarily be considered necessities by all, but it will be very hard for you to get by without them. Examples include:

  • Groceries
  • Gas for your car
  • Water, electricity, and other bills

#2: Do It Yourself

This tip isn’t exactly like the crafty DIY: do it yourself, but there are some things that you probably could do yourself instead of paying someone else to do it. The biggest example of this is to cook your own food instead of going out to eat. You can also apply this to other treats, such as coffee (buy a coffee maker instead) and smoothies/protein shakes (invest in a good blender).

Another way to apply this is to take care of some of those home chores yourself. You may not have a housekeeper, but maybe you pay a lawn service to cut your grass when you can do this yourself. Or maybe you pay for trash service when you can take your trash to the local dump/recycling center yourself.

Finally, consider taking a “staycation” instead of a vacation. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to stay home, but a backyard camping trip saves more money. Still, staying at a nice hotel right in your hometown (or somewhere nearby) can be considered a “staycation”.

#3: Eliminate Debt

Cutting down on your spending habits is a great start, but eliminating some of the debt you have will help make an even bigger difference. Your debt is likely one of your monthly bills (e.g., credit card, student loans, etc.), and eliminating a bill will allow you to keep more money. Different methods work for different people, which is why it’s important to create a budget and set goals to effectively become debt-free.

#4: Pay Yourself

The best way to save money is to literally save money. Depending on who you bank with, you can set up your checking account to automatically deposit some of your paychecks into your savings account. When doing this, make note of it when creating your budget so that you won’t have to dip into your savings account unless absolutely necessary. Banks also offer interest on the money in your savings account, so you can earn a little more by saving.

However, to get the best interest rates on the money in your savings, you should probably switch to an online savings account through an online-only bank. Most banks like this also offer tips on how to save, budget, and pay off debts.

#5: Set Goals

Last, but not least, you must set savings goals— even if the goal is to simply put money aside for a rainy day. However, most people do have something tangible in mind when they start saving. This can be for a car, a home, or even something that’s not considered a necessity. It’s perfectly fine to save money for your “wants”, but keep in mind that you should also have savings for emergencies.

Some people have different savings (and even savings accounts) for different things like their wants and needs. Just remember to keep an emergency fund for the what-ifs, but it’s also not a bad idea to have money set aside for different things.

Understand that this won’t happen overnight and that it takes time to see a difference in your financial situation. It’s also important to realize that setbacks may happen, but perseverance is key. However, with patience and consistency in following these five tips, you’re sure to see an improvement.

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