By Mary Jo Lyons, CFP®
Are you working on trying to get your financial life on track? To improve your financial fitness? Here are 10 micro changes you can make now that will add up over time. Most of these you won’t even feel. Most of these you already know but just aren’t executing on. Having done hundreds of financial plans over the years I can tell you the difference in making it vs. not making it comes down to savings.
Skip the high priced coffee drinks or find a less expensive alternative:
McDonalds instead of Starbucks.
Watch your pantry
What items do you have on hand that need to be used up? Can you plan a meal around them? Only buy what you need and what you will use.
Do an Insurance review
Take the time to compare rates on all of your property and casualty coverage. Can you get a discount if you move it all to one carrier? When was the last time you compared rates?
Buying in bulk can save money, but not if you end up throwing it out. Are you really going to use 150 antacid tablets or ibuprofen before they expire?
Name brands vs store brands
Compare the essential ingredients. You can often save significantly by buying store brands. When it comes to basic items like pain relievers or dish detergent, these items may serve you just as well. Save the name brands for food stuff where quality can make a difference.
(ok that one is for me sadly) That speeding ticket is a complete waste of money and defensive driving is not the most efficient use of your time. Think about how much those 6-8 hrs are costing you.
Increase your 401(k) contributions
If you are not maxing out your contributions start now. Slowly increase your savings rate automatically with each pay raise until you are.
If you are over 50 be sure you have increased your savings rate to take advantage of the increase in allowable contributions to IRAs and employer based retirement plans for those 50 and older.
Paid subscription services
Take time to review all of the monthly charges that you forget about, what apps, newspapers, cable channels, games, software etc., have you paid for that you no longer use? Did you forget to cancel that 2 week free trial of HBO?
Dollar Cost Averaging
Disciplined regular investing such as $200 on the 1st and 15th of each month allows you to buy no matter where the market is. You will be buying during market lows and market highs and in between. Over time this reduces your cost basis. It’s investing consistently that builds real wealth over time. This approach takes the emotion out. No one can time the market consistently.
You can’t invest your way to a secure financial future, you have to save your way to a secure financial future. Small changes now can make a big difference over time.