5 Small Changes You Can Do Today to Improve Your Finances

Show me the money, honey.

By Erica Holland

In the spirit of “new year, new me,” it’s only fitting that we wipe our slates clean and start the year with fresh, healthy habits in our financial lives, too. If you’ve already reflected on the changes you want to make to live better this year, bravo! Over at ModMoney, we’re firm believers that healthy finances are an important part of living well. And there are a few simple habits you can adopt today that will boost your money life. So here’s to a new year, a new you, and a new financial wellness journey!

photo by sezane

entry way table, organized table, kitchen, magazinesphoto by kara rosenlund

Work on your personal budget.

Similar to a fad diet, budgets get a bad rap for being restrictive and unsustainable. But who says we can’t save money and live our best lives at the same time? The key is portioning your income among specific needs and activities. The 50/20/30 budget is my go-to because it helps you save up, pay down debt, and spend money on the things you love. Because every diet should have room for the occasional gooey chocolate chip cookie, am I right?

Download an app to track your spending.

The key to maintaining your budget is knowing what you’re spending money on. And tracking your expenses manually takes way too much time and effort. Luckily, there are a handful of budgeting apps that do the heavy lifting for you. Personal Capital is my die-hard favorite, but Clarity Money and Mint are great options, too. All you have to do is link your accounts, and the apps will track the cash coming in and out. Each algorithm can identify different expense categories and give you a full picture of where your finances stand.

maryam phone dresser, apps to save moneyphoto by kathryn worsham

Spot your large spending buckets.

While skipping out on an occasional morning latte is a sure way to save some cash, will it really move the needle? Maybe the joy of a creamy mug of goodness justifies the $5 price tag. Instead of trimming the expenses that truly make you happy, focus on bigger-ticket items. This is where your budgeting app will be helpful. You might notice that you’re spending a good amount of money on car insurance. So take a few minutes to get quotes from others. Then, challenge your current provider to match them. Your cable company will also magically create incentives to lower your bill if you threaten to switch. The same thing goes for Internet, renter’s insurance, and other bills you’re dishing out.

Avoid paying credit card interest.

Consumer credit card debt is more widespread than ever before. And the sky-high interest rates on these cards can sabotage your finances in an instant. The crazy thing is that many people carry credit card debt not because they can’t pay it, but because they forget to! So go set all of your credit cards to autopay your full balance (not the minimum) each month. That way, you can avoid pricey interest payments and keep your credit score in good standing.

red wallet, money saving tipsphoto by mansur gavriel

Watch your spending triggers.

Regardless of your money personality, we all have spending triggers. Maybe it’s stress or boredom. Perhaps you just can’t help yourself when you’re meandering your local boutique-lined streets. Whatever your spending triggers are, be aware of them. If you’re feeling the impulse to snatch up that new pair of sunglasses, try waiting 24 hours. If they’re still all you can think about, then go ahead and indulge yourself (if it’s in your budget). If the shopping urge has subsided, save that cash for something more meaningful.