I know the thought of changing your financial life can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be
When you’re in a financial mess, the idea that you can change your financial life may seem impossible, but it really isn’t.
Yes, it’s true that it may take you a long time to turn your finances around, but if you are committed to the process, then it’s totally possible.
You don’t have to be special or have any special skill to do this. All you need is a dogged determination and a burning desire to change your financial life.
So if you’re sick and tired of being broke, or worried about your financial future, here are some simple steps you can take today to turn your financial life around.
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21 THINGS YOU CAN DO TODAY TO CHANGE YOUR FINANCIAL LIFE
1. MAKE A FIRM COMMITMENT TO YOURSELF
Commit to do every thing it takes to get your finances under control.
I like to write stuff like this down as a reminder, because, a time will come when you’re going to be sick of budgeting and paying off debt that you’d want to quit.
However, when you have a reminder or better still, an accountability partner to hold you responsible, it’s more difficult to quit.
So the first thing you should do today is resolve that you’re going to do everything possible to achieve your dream.
2. DO A FINANCIAL INVENTORY
Take stock of your financial life.
When you know where you are financially, then you can see how much work you need to do, and how long it’s going to take.
Open up those unpaid bills and final notices. Bring out all your credit card statements (or check them online), so you can have a clear picture of how much you owe and who your creditors are.
Check out your savings accounts. How much do you have saved up? If you have emergency savings or retirement accounts, how much do you have in there?
Taking stock of your financial life will help you to see how bad things are, or how far behind you are financially.
3. MAKE A LIST OF ALL YOUR DEBTS
This is a pretty simple step.
Make a list of all your debts including your mortgage, credit card debts, personal loans, car loan, student loan, debts to family and friends etc.
Write everything down including the name of the debt or creditor, and the amount you owe.
Don’t leave anything out no matter how small.
Sometimes people underestimate or overestimate how much debt they have, writing everything down is the best way to know how much you really owe.
4. MAKE A LIST OF ALL YOUR ESSENTIAL AND NON-ESSENTIAL EXPENSES
Your expenses can be broken down into esential and non-essential.
Grab a sheet of paper and draw a line in the middle. Write your essential expenses on one side and your non-esential expenses on the other.
Write down the amount you pay next to each expense so you can easily see how much you’re spending on each item.
Sometimes, it’s easy to forget how much of your income you spend on a particular category relative to others. Listing them side-by-side can be a bit of a revelation and spur you into making some changes.
5. MAKE A LIST OF NON-RECURRING EXPENSES
For this purpose, your non-recurring expenses are those expenses that you need to take care of in the next six to twelve months.
For example, car repairs, replacing your washing machine, a medical procedure etc.
Anything that you know needs to be fixed or paid for within the next year should go on this list.
A lot of people have found themselves in financial crisis because they failed to plan for non-recurring expenses, so I don’t want you to ignore them.
6. MAKE A LIST OF YOUR ACTUAL INCOME
How much do you earn each month?
I’m referring to your net income (your take home pay). Please include only your actual income and not speculative income.
Write all your income from different sources so you can see at a glance how much you earn each month.
7. LIST YOUR OTHER EXPENSES
Yes, I am aware this is the third time I am talking about your expenses, but I want to make sure you don’t leave anything out.
What other things do you spend money on every month?
Anything you didn’t include in your essential, non-essential and recurring expenses lists should go on this list.
For example, if you eat out a lot, give money to other people, gamble, drink, smoke whatever, they probably should come under this list.
Anything you haven’t mentioned goes on this list.
8. SLASH TWO OR THREE NON-ESSENTIAL EXPENSES
Okay, now that you have a better picture of your financial situation, you are ready to take action.
So the first thing I want you to do is to take a look at your non-essential expenses and get rid of two or three of them today.
This probably means canceling one or two subscriptions, as long as you can do it without incurring further charges.
If you need to, make some calls and close those accounts. If you can, consider slashing your grocery bill too while you are at it.
9. PAY OFF VERY SMALL DEBTS
If you have lots of small debts, pay off a couple of them today.
Yes, you’re going to create a debt repayment plan eventually, but to get the ball rolling, I want you to get rid of some of your financial burden.
What if your fianncial condition is so bad you can’t even afford to pay off your small debts? Move on to the next step!
10. LOOK AROUND YOUR HOME FOR THINGS YOU CAN SELL
Don’t for one second think that you don’t have anything valuable you can trade for money.
One man’s junk is another man’s treasure, so look around your home for a few things you can sell, and use it to pay off some of the small debts.
If the items you find don’t require washing, take pictures of them, open an account on eBay or Craigslist and list them there before the end of the day.
If you have lots of books to sell, I find Amazon to be the best place for selling used or new books.
Don’t think this is a lot of work and ignore it.
If you’re serious about changing your financial life, you have to do this. No excuses!
11. SET UP AUTOMATIC SAVINGS
If you are not used to saving money from each paycheck, or if you’re inconsistent, consider setting up automatic savings transfer.
Take a look at your income and expenses and decide on a set amount you can save each month (please be realistic).
It doesn’t matter how small the amount is. What’s important is that you are consistent. Automatic savings transfers make it easy to save and stop you from making excuses.
You can set this up with your bank so that they automatically transfer a set amount of money into your savings account everytime you get a paycheck.
This is something you can do today to change your finances.
If you need help setting up automatic savings transfer, check out the following articles for some uesful tips.
If you’re still unsure about the benefits of automating your savings, check out the Automatic Millionaire to see how this one thing can change your financial future.
12. RETURN UNUSED AND UNOPENED PURCHASES
Did you think that changing your financial life was going to be easy and without some embarrassment?
Not a chance!
Some years ago when I decided to get serious with my finances, I raided my closets and collected everything I bought that I hadn’t used.
The return date for some of the items were past, but I returned them anyway. I didn’t get a cash refund for some of them, instead I got gift cards.
It was okay because I later used the cards to pay for clothes for my kids when they needed some new clothes.
I had purses, shoes and some clothes that were laying around gathering dust so I was happy to get rid of them.
Of course not all the shops are going to accept your returns, but it’s worth trying.
So look around for things that you bought in the last six months that you haven’t used and take them back.
If you haven’t used them in six months, you probably don’t need them anyway, so better get some cash or gift cards back.
13. REQUEST ANY MONEY OWED TO YOU
If you’re a freelancer or self-employed, or even an employee, and you have an unpaid invoice or invoices (or if you haven’t sent out an invoice after competing a job), now is a good time to request payment or send your invoice.
Some companies take sixty or ninety days to pay out so you better get cracking on those invoices.
If your family member or friend owes you money and you know they are in a position to pay back, don’t be shy, go ahead and ask for your money back unless you’ve decided to forgive the debt.
But going forward, stop lending money to friends and family who don’t pay back (unless you are prepared to lose your money).
I know some of you have a hard time saying no, but you can’t take control of your finances or revamp your finances if you keep throwing money away.
14. LIST 3-5 WAYS YOU CAN EARN MORE MONEY
I know for some of you, the only way you can get out of a bad financial situation is to earn more.
If this is your situation, try brainstorming three to five ways you can make more money.
You can also do this if you want to accelerate debt repayment or build up your savings really fast.
If you know nothing else is going to help your finances unless you find a way to bring in more money, this should be your number one priority.
If you don’t know where to start, check out the articles below:
15. SHOP FOR CHEAPER CAR INSURANCE
If you have a car, I assume you have car insurance.
Before you go to bed tonight, take a few minutes to shop around for car insurance.
Make sure you read all the fine prints before you sign up for new auto insurance.
Also, don’t consider only the short-term gains, look at the long-term gains as well as the premiums.
Changing your car insurance could save you a bit of cash which you can use for something else.
16. PICK UP THE PHONE AND CALL YOUR CREDITORS
If you have a creditor or utility supplier who’s been calling (and you have been ignoring), it’s time to pick up the phone and have a chat with them.
Thankfully, we no longer have debtor’s jail so there’s not much a creditor can do to you (of course they can hurt you financially, but you get my point).
Most creditors are willing to work with you as long as you offer them a reasonable payment plan. Before you make that call, take a good look at your finances and come come up with a reasonable but realistic offer to repay whatever you owe.
You can’t hide from your financial problems forever, so you might as well get the ball rolling today. Negotiate with your creditors, but tread with caution.
17. READ A FEW PERSONAL FINANCE ARTICLES
An informed consumer is a dangerous consumer to the credit card industry that’s why you need to become financially literate if you are not.
Read a few articles about debt and credit cards ( and how they work), so you can have a better understanding of your finances.
If you can spare a few dollars, get some personal finance books and commit to reading a chapter or two every day to increase your knowledge.
Here are some of my favorite personal finance books for you to check out:
18. HOLD A FAMILY MEETING
If you’re married with kids, this is a good time to have a chat with your spouse and kids.
Start by telling them that you have seen the light and you’re now a new creature. That’s a great way to get their attention.
Now you can talk about your current financial situation and why it’s important for you to make some changes to the way you live.
Try to get your spouse on board because it’s much easier to work on your finances if both of you are on the same page.
Let everyone know the changes they should expect so they can adjust and work with you.
It’s easier to achieve your financial goals if everyone does their part.
19. IDENTIFY SOME LIFESTYLE CHANGES YOU NEED TO MAKE
Obviously, when you’re trying to take control of your finances, it’ isn’t going to be business as usual.
You will need to make some changes to your lifestyle, and be willing to give up a few things.
You have to make some sacrifices to revamp your finances, so think about what you’re willing to give up.
It’s probably going to be too hard to change everything at once, but you can make some changes like: stop eating out, start shopping with a shopping list, stop buying alcohol, start taking lunch to work, cut your cable, start shopping less frequently, start shopping used etc.
Decide what you’re willing to give up immediately, and take action.
It’s going to hurt, but it’s all for a good cause. That’s how you need to approach things.
20. IDENTIFY YOUR THREE PRIMARY FINANCIAL GOALS
If you’re really serious about changing your financial life, you need to plan your financial goals.
The first step to planning your financial goals is to identify what they are. So take a few minutes to think about the most important financial goals you’d like to achieve, then write them down.
It could be, becoming debt free, saving for retirement, saving twelve months of living expenses in your emergency fund etc.
These are all good goals to start with if you don’t know where to start.
Don’t skip this step because it will give you something to work towards, and help you to stay focused.
21. PLAN FOR THE FUTURE FINANCIALLY
Think of some big money moves you can make that would massively improve your financial life, then write them down.
I am talking about things like downsizing your home, relocating to a new state, downsizing your cars, working more hours or changing jobs.
I mean, big things that can really turn your financial life around.
Sometimes you have to make these big money moves to change your financial life, so keep that at the back of your mind.
Final thoughts on how to change your financial life
By reading this post, you’ve taken the first step to get out of a bad financial situation. What you do with all this information will determine if you succeed or fail.
I know there are a lot of tips and ideas in this post, but you don’t have to implement everything all at once.
Pick the ones that are most relevant to your situation and start with them.
The important thing is that you take action today.
What’s the most important thing that will change your finances?
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