Have you ever said this or heard anyone else say…
I can’t afford that.
All of my money goes to bills.
We just can’t get ahead.
I don’t know where my money goes.
We all have!
If we want to lose weight, we know steps and strategies to make that happen, right? Things like making better choices with food, drinking water, and exercising.
The same is true of improving our finances. There are steps and strategies to make it happen but it requires making some changes to what we’re doing. You’ve probably heard the saying “if you want different results, you have to do things differently.” Getting financially fit requires doing things differently so that the results improve your life and your bank account!
These are top 10 exercises to get financially fit and manage your money wisely. Pick an area to start improving and then add another. Just like losing weight, you will start seeing the results of your efforts!
Budgeting is the key to changing your spending habits. You can’t figure out what to change if you don’t know where it goes. You need a budget. It doesn’t have to be complicated with spreadsheets or formulas. It can be a dollar store notebook and a #2 pencil! It could be a free, easy to use app to manage money. Whatever the method, a budget is essential to figure out the “status of your money” meaning where it’s all going.
2- Spend Less
If your income is fixed, then the only way to see more of it is to spend less of it. Spending less does not have to be drastic. If you want to keep your daily latte, then just find a way (or a place) to get it cheaper. If you must keep cable television, then consider a smaller package. If you want to eat out, take advantage of things like “free kids meal with an adult meal” nights and skip the sodas. You will see more of your income if you find ways to protect it, no matter how small they may seem!
3- Save More
Saving more gives you financial options and reduces stress when it comes to emergencies. It helps you rest better knowing there’s a back-up plan in place should you need it. Dentist, anyone? Makes me cringe just typing it. Not because of the experience (even if it’s not my favorite) but because of the bill that follows. Yet, I know it’s important… just like washing our clothes if the washing machine quits or getting a new battery for the car. Expect the best, but plan for the worst with a healthy savings!
Almost anything you can think of in the world of personal finance can be automated. Your income to checkings, your income to savings, your bills to autopay… it can all go automatically where it needs to go. There is really not an excuse for a late fee these days with the option to automate everything. It saves time and it saves your money. Win-win.
5- Reduce Debt
You just can’t improve your financial situation without reducing or eliminating debt. There are situations (such as rental property investments) when debt can be used as a tool but if you’re not in a good position to do that to begin with, don’t mess around with debt! It’s a trap! It puts you in a human hamster wheel where you are always moving but never getting anywhere. Stay out of debt to get financially fit.
6- Increase Income
Increasing income can come in many different formats. It could be anything from asking for a raise to having a yard sale. It just means bringing more money in to help you achieve financial goals faster.
The Internet has opened up an ocean of opportunities to increase income. When I used to have a little more time (aka before children), I used to do some vintage item profit flipping from yard sales or estate sales. Essentially I was just looking for anything that might make a profit on eBay. I remember buying a vintage kid’s game called “Milky the Cow” for 2.00 and it sold for 55.00. Think about what ways you can bring in more income and doing so will put you on a faster path to financial freedom.
7- Set Goals
Setting financial goals, and putting them in writing, keeps them at the front of your mind and thoughts. Ours are posted in a place where we see them daily. Below is a free download of goal planning worksheet. It’s an editable .pdf, so you can type directly in each box. Then keep it in your planner or somewhere in your home as a visual reminder to keep making progress on your goals.
8- Get Insurance
Why do I think this is an exercise to get financially fit? Because the risk of not having it can be devastating. I have a family member who lost an outdoor detached workshop to a fire. It was a huge workshop that had an office space, bathroom and utility room. It was a total loss and was uninsured. Luckily the homeowner’s policy helped this family member get a little compensation back for the items lost, but it was just a fraction of what he had spent to build that workshop. This family member’s advice would be “Don’t learn the hard way. Get insurance.”
9- Be Generous
In order to get, you have to give. Giving returns. If you’re not in a position yet to give money, give of your time and/or talents. You might teach someone how to do something to improve their lives. It doesn’t matter “what” you give, it matters “why!” Give to make things better, make people better, make lives better… leave something better than you found it. Being a giver without asking for anything in return will find its way back to you in abundance. Instant return on investment!
10- Learn More
Once you have achieved goals with financial fitness, set a new goal to learn more. Investments… mutual funds, bonds, Roth IRA, 401K, stocks, CDs, property tax breaks… there’s always something more to learn. This is a great “problem” to have because it means your money is growing and you have to figure out where it can go to grow even faster. In the fall I attended the Dave Ramsey money management conference called Smart Conference. My ultimate goal is to attend a FinCon conference. Personal finance books are also a way to invest in yourself by learning more.
What exercises have you found to stay financially fit? Keep working out because the results will be amazing!