What better time to take control of your financial future than the new year? Everyone wants financial security, and there’s really no time like the present to begin taking the steps toward achieving that outcome. Financial security, such as having savings or being able to purchase a home, may seem daunting but are very achievable with small, simple lifestyle changes that you can make today. You don’t have to have a lot of money or a lot of financial know-how to take the steps that will increase your cash flow and savings, reduce your debt and help you meet your goals. Here are five simple lifestyle changes you can make right away to improve your financial outlook for 2021.
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Last updated: Jan. 14, 2021
Set Up Tools To Track Spending
It’s hard to get a fresh start and prepare for your financial future if you don’t really know where your money is going. Consider using free or low-cost digital and online tools that can help you create a budget and maintain an accounting of your income and expenses.
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Automate Bill Paying and Savings
If you are still paying your bills manually, via checks and through the mail, you run the risk of late payments, which can rack up fees, and you’re making more work for yourself than necessary. Most banks allow you to set up automatic bill pay. All you have to do is make sure the money is in the bank, schedule the dates and the bank does the rest for you without you having to think about it. You can also set up automatic drafts to your savings account or emergency fund to really plan ahead.
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Cut Extraneous Subscriptions and Memberships
How many times have you signed up for a free trial of a service, newspaper or entertainment program and forgotten to cancel when the trial period is up? How many of your streaming services do you really watch regularly? Are you still paying for a gym that you don’t go to anymore because of COVID-19? There are numerous small ways you may be frittering away money without realizing it. Take the time to go through your bank account and look for money you’re spending on things you don’t use. Snipping out a streaming subscription service could save you as much as $60 to $779 per year depending on what you pay for. Quitting that gym membership could save you an average of $400 per year. Careful scrutiny will probably reveal numerous small monthly fees you can get rid of right away.
Read More: How Your 2021 Finances Will Look the Same (and Different) Compared to 2020
Pay More Than the Minimum Balance
If you’re carrying a credit card balance then you’re already losing money on the interest you pay. If you can’t pay off your debt right away, which is ideal, consider making more than the minimum payment every month to make a sizable dent in that interest and shorten the life of that debt. The quicker you can get debts paid off, the sooner you can begin to save for future goals.
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When you buy brand name items, you’re paying more simply for the name recognition of a product that isn’t necessarily any better than a generic one. Yet most products you use, from toothpaste and food to medications, have a generic option that will cost you less. What’s more, many of these items are now easy to order online so you don’t even have to leave your home to save money. Money expert Dave Ramsey says that just by buying generic food you could save up to $1,000 per year on your food budget.
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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: 5 Lifestyle Changes You Can Make Now To Secure Your Financial Future