Raise your hand if you feel confident about your finances. Not feeling it? That is OK. You can gain some control over your fiscal situation, bit by bit, until that confidence comes. These empowering ideas will help you build momentum with small gains.
1. Track your spending for one month
Tracking your spending for one month will help you identify habits and spot excess expenses, said Colin Walsh, CEO of Varo, an online bank.
Once you know where your money is going, you can make informed decisions about where you want it to go, giving you a sense of purpose with your spending.
You might even decide to keep on tracking.
2. Switch to a high-yield savings account
Most savings accounts earn minimal interest — the average annual percentage yield is just 0.09% — but several offer close to 2% interest. Here’s the difference that can make: If you have $1,000 in a savings account with an APY of 0.09%, you will earn a measly $4.51 over five years. In a 2% APY account, that same $1,000 would earn about $105.
3. Increase your credit score
Several credit card issuers and personal-finance websites offer free credit scores, so you can keep tabs on your progress. Look for ways to increase your score, including checking for errors on your report and dispute any you find with the credit bureau; lowering your credit utilization (the percentage of your credit card limit that you use) and becoming an authorized user on a partner’s or parent’s credit card.
4. Pay off one loan or credit card
Instead of trying to pay all your balances off at once, direct your energy at one debt, while making the minimum payments on the rest. You can tackle your debt in order from the smallest to largest balance to net some quick wins, or focus on the account with the highest interest rate. Tackling debt in a disciplined way will put you back in the driver’s seat with your money.
5. Plan for expected expenses
Homeowners, for example, can anticipate things like property taxes and certain repairs. “If you have an old roof, you are going to eventually need to replace it, so start setting money aside for that,” says David Carlson, founder of Young Adult Money, a personal finance blog. The financial hit won’t sting so much if you have set a little aside each month.