Improving your financial situation doesn’t happen overnight, nor does it require a major shift. The best way to achieve financial health is approaching it one step at a time. Here are 30 steps you can take one day at a time to learn smart financial management.
Day 1: Organize your income and expenses. You want to know exactly how much you have coming in and going out every month. Don’t forget to include savings, household expenses, debt repayment, and expenses that aren’t monthly such as car maintenance.
Day 2: Organize your debts. Make a comprehensive list of what you owe, your minimum monthly payments, and the interest rates you’re paying.
Day 4: Reduce fixed expenses. This is an important place to start for real savings. Ideas to consider include carpooling, installing a programmable thermostat, and reducing your cable package.
Day 5: Negotiate your credit card debt. Call your card issuers and ask for a lower interest rate or consider a new credit card with a 0% intro APR to pay down debt faster.
Day 6: Get a free copy of your credit reports from AnnualCreditReport.com. Look for any errors and dispute them with the credit bureaus right away to start improving your credit.
Day 7: Call your cable provider to reduce your package or negotiate for a lower rate. If you can’t get a better deal, consider ditching cable for Hulu, Netflix, and other low-cost entertainment.
Day 8: Choose one area of spending to reduce. This may be reducing your food costs by preparing meals at home or replacing movie theater tickets and Blu-Ray purchases with Redbox rentals.
Day 9: Automate your savings by automatically transferring at least 10% of your paycheck into savings and/or retirement.
Day 11: Save on car insurance by comparing quotes from at least 3 companies and asking about discounts you can get.
Day 12: Make a household inventory for insurance purposes. This should include photos, receipts, and estimated values for important belongings. This is a good time to collect warranty information and have expensive items appraised.
Day 13: Save on homeowners insurance by comparing quotes from a few companies, asking about discounts, and raising your deductible. You should be directing money into savings to cover the deductible, if necessary.
Day 14: Check for any subscriptions you don’t need, including magazines, websites, Netflix, and Hulu.
Day 15: Find out your true hourly wage to help you see the cost of purchases in hours.
Day 16: Start decluttering your home. Let go of papers, knickknacks, unused video games, and anything taking up space. Separate items into three piles: sell, donate, and trash.
Day 17: Spend one day listing items you don’t need for sale to boost your savings. Use apps like OfferUp and auction sites to get the most money possible.
Day 19: Do an energy audit on your home. Many utility companies do free audits to help you identify energy problems and high-use appliances.
Day 20: Reduce your energy spending by addressing the finding of your energy audit and easy improvements like insulating your water heater, installing a programmable thermostat, and putting up sun-blocking window treatments.
Day 21: Sign up for e-bills to make it easier to track your bills and pay them online.
Day 22: Check your loans to make sure you’re getting the best interest rate.
Day 23: Find out if you get any discounts through your employer and credit card issuer such as discounted tickets, extended product warranties, and free gym membership.
Day 24: Pay more than the minimum due on your credit cards. Set this up automatically to pay down debt faster and improve your credit.
Day 25: Do an audit of your bank account to make sure you aren’t paying unnecessary fees. Look for a free or high-interest checking account.
Day 26: Buy life insurance. It’s not just important to improve your own finances; you also want to ensure your family will be okay if something happens to you. Life insurance is also cheaper the younger you are.
Day 27: Update your financial accounts with correct beneficiary information. Consider payable-on-death accounts when appropriate.
Day 29: Lower your cell phone bill. Negotiate a lower rate with your provider, reduce your plan, or shop around for a cheaper plan.
Day 30: Visit an estate and probate lawyer to create or update a will and protect your assets.