With Memorial Day weekend ringing in the unofficial start to summer, it’s time for the beach, the grill and a whole lotta relaxing. This is hardly when we want to get serious about money, right?
We get it – it’s not always the easiest subject to embrace, especially when there might be some parts of it you don’t want to think about, perhaps some of those financial New Year’s resolutions that you never quite got around to following.
That’s exactly why now – at the very cusp of three months devoted to play – might be the best time for a financial tune-up. Decisions you make or actions you take today could get you more financially fit and let you enjoy the summer without nagging concerns that you’re not being as efficient with your money as you want to be.
But let’s be real – we’re not going to tell you that avoiding that $5 latte every morning is going to magically turn around your net worth. It’s not that easy. But it’s also not that hard to enlist a few strategies that make you more mindful about your money and ultimately make a big impact on your future. Maybe that’s buying a house or a new car sooner than you thought, or maybe it’s putting more toward that student loan.
Here are some tips to help you get financially fit:
- Is recurring occurring? Just about everybody has signed up for a service or subscription that has put a recurring charge on your debit or credit card. And that’s OK – if you’re still enjoying the product. Why not take a look at your recent statements and make sure that those monthly and annual billings are for stuff you still want? Keep in mind: sellers of products you may have forgotten about often have the ability to charge a new card you’re using -- and even your old card that’s expired.
- No fees, please. Fees by banks and credit card companies can pile up, often on consumers who had no idea they’re coming. Ever heard of an “account maintenance” fee? Fortunately, there might be a tried-and-true remedy: complaining! Many consumer advocates say contacting your bank immediately after a fee is charged gives you a pretty good shot at getting it waived.
- Cutting the cord. This popular phrase has been the go-to strategy for cable TV customers that realize, in the words of Bruce Springsteen, there are “57 channels and nothing on.” For many of us, we watch 10-12 channels, tops, or even more likely, we’re binge-watching on streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime. Several unlimited subscription services exist that offer unlimited streaming for a low monthly cost of about $8 to $10 a month; others offer pay-per-view services, where you rent or buy an individual show or movie. Compare that to what you might be paying for monthly cable. Which begs the questions, do you know how much you’re paying for cable?
- It’s going to rain sooner or later. It’s hard to be equivocal about this one. If you’re not saving money, start. A rainy-day fund isn’t just a good idea as a theoretical financial backstop, it’s practically guaranteed that you’ll need to tap into it at some point. Life happens, and so do unforeseen costs that could be potentially be devastating if you don’t give yourself a cushion.
- You do have a budget, right? Hey, there’s no shame here – a 2013 Gallup showed that two-thirds of us don’t even keep the simplest of budgets. We just don’t do it. But the reality is that it’s practically impossible to pay debt as quickly as possible or save for anything without knowing how you spend your money. However, the best budgets aren’t necessarily strict taskmasters – you get to decide how much of your spending is necessary, how much is allowable luxury, and what’s destructive excess.
- What’s your credit score? Before you agree to apply for that new store credit card in order to get a great discount on your swimsuit purchase, it’s a good idea to know your credit score. You’ll better understand your chances of getting approved, but maybe more importantly, how a credit card inquiry and subsequent balance might impact your credit score. Did you know you can get your TransUnion credit score for **free** at MoneyLion? Get it today by downloading our mobile app.
This is hardly an exhaustive list, but it’s also likely that considering a few of these ideas will boost your financial consciousness and let you come up with better ideas that fit your financial fitness profile.
What other financial tune-up tips do you have? We’d love to hear them. Please share in the comments below.