11 Quick Tips and Tricks to Improve Your Money Now
Taking one or two two quick actions can show immediate improvement in your money.
In this post I want to acknowledge how busy you are.
With jobs to do, commutes to endure, households to run and Netflix shows to watch (have you read my post on my love for Queer Eye?) how can you make time to manage your money?
Following are 11 Quick Tips and Tricks that can be done 30 minutes or less that you can try RIGHT NOW. Because who’s got time for long projects?!
Try one tip or try them all! Will you at least try one? Do you promise? Okay, let’s go:
1. Put more money in each paycheck:
Do you find that there is “more month than money” with regards to your finances, and then get a whopping tax refund each spring? If so you are not alone – about 80% of Americans get a tax refund! But to me, that tax refund is a little less fun when you need to wait until next year to get it.
Go to HR and ask for a new W-4. The good news is that you can make changes to this form at any time and multiple times a year if you need to. Check out the IRS Withholding Calculator to help you make the adjustment. The goal is to put more money in each paycheck while not going so far as to leave you with a tax bill at the end of the year.
2. Trick yourself into saving:
Go to your HR or payroll office and ask for a new direct deposit form. Opt to transfer $X to your savings account with each pay period (you choose the amount that feels comfortable to you – no judgement).
If you get live checks or do not have direct deposit go to your bank’s online banking platform and set up an auto transfer of $X from your checking to your savings account each month.
Your savings will grow and you will never again have to ask yourself the question, “Do I have enough money to put into savings this month?”
3. Bolster your retirement contributions:
When you are up for a pay increase – either through a raise (wouldn’t that be nice?) or a Cost of Living Adjustment (is that more likely for you?) – take part or that entire amount and use it to increase your contribution into your retirement account.
Let’s be real, you’ve been living off this paycheck for the past year so you know that you can continue to manage your household cash flow. Your future self will thank you!
4. Hit “Unsubscribe” on email marketing:
This is a tip and trick rolled into one! By hitting “Unsubscribe” on your favorite stores’ email marketing messages you will have that “out of sight, out of mind” sensation that will keep you off those stores’ websites and will keep more dollars in your bank account!
5. Take control of your credit card due date:
Do you know that you can choose the day of the month when your credit card payment is due? It’s true! The Credit Card Act of 2009 established this rule and although some of my students know about this, not all do.
Take a moment to consider your monthly cash flow – is there a day of the month that you tend to have more money than other days? Choose a day that you feel confident that you will have the most money to make a credit card payment. See this Credit Card Insider article here with specific instructions for some of the large credit card issuers. Problem solved!
6. Request a lower credit card interest rate:
If you are a customer in good standing and have a history of paying your bills on time call your credit card company’s customer service and ask for a lower interest rate. Tell them that you are a “longstanding customer who has a good payment history.” Compare other cards’ interest rates and mention them in your conversation to prove that you have done your homework.
In today’s competitive credit card industry companies would rather work to keep you as a customer than work to find a new customer. In other words, the ball is likely to be in your court.
7. Request a credit limit increase:
This tip is not for the faint of heart! Do you have a good handle on your credit card spending and know that you will not be tempted to go on a shopping spree? Are you answering honestly? Okay, try this trick: Go online or call your credit card company and request an increase in your credit limit.
Why? Part of your credit score is based on your Credit Utilization Rate (CUR), or the comparison between your credit card balance and your credit limit. $3,000 balance on a $5,000 card? 60% Credit Utilization Rate. $3,000 balance on a $10,000 card? 30% Credit Utilization Rate! (Pro tip: Lenders want to see that you have a Credit Utilization Rate of less than 30%).
8. Stop potential lenders from checking you out:
If you pull your credit report and notice that the Inquiry section is rather long you may be perturbed to find out that there are companies out there reviewing your credit file without your permission so that they can solicit you for business.
Register at OptOutPrescreen.com and see those inquiries disappear. As an added bonus you’ll see your junk mail dwindle in your mailbox!
9. Freeze your credit accounts:
As of Fall 2018 it is free to freeze your credit accounts at all three credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian and Trans Union. Read more detail about this service on the Federal Trade Commission website.
Go to each of their websites and follow the instructions to freeze your report. And remember to put the PIN that they assign you in a safe place so that you have it when you want to un-freeze!
10. Check in with your insurance company:
Do you know that customers who “set and forget it” with their insurance policies might see their premiums rise year after year? This is because the insurance agencies notice that you are not paying attention of those price increases and take advantage of it. There is an interesting explanation on consumers’ sensitivity to prices in this Consumer Reports piece.
If you haven’t done this in a while, dial customer service at your auto or home insurance carrier. Tell them why you are calling: “Hi, I haven’t checked in with my policy in a while and I want to see if there are any cost-saving measures that I can take advantage of.” Let the customer service agent review your policy and discuss any possible savings with you. The last time I made this call I saved $35 a month, yay!
11. Check in with your cable and cell phone providers too:
Much like insurance, you may have a longstanding relationship with your cable and/or cell phone provider and plans change over time. Contact them once a year to check in on your plan and ask for any specials that they are running. (Pro tip: Call the “Cancellation” department first since these agents are more empowered to offer you an incentive to stay with the provider.)