Want to build a stronger financial future with minimal effort?
Achieving financial freedom is an exciting goal. The steps you take to get there should be simple, easy and fun. Fortunately, these days, there are solutions that can help you reach financial goals in record time.
Here are some ways to improve your finances and build a better, stronger financial future with less hassle.
1. Create a budget
There’s something simple you can do to find the extra money to pay off debt, build savings and regain control of your finances. All you have to do is create a spending plan, also known as a budget.
Use a service like YNAB (short for "You Need A Budget"). You tell the handy website or app where your money is, and it can automatically track your expenses. You tell it your spending goals, it automatically keeps track of your progress.
Does it work? On average, new YNAB users save $600 in their first two months and more than $6,000 in their first year, according to the service.
YNAB isn’t the only budgeting service. But we recommend it because we’ve tried a bunch of budgeting tools and this is the one we like best. It’s also the one we personally use.
Budgeting can help get you get organized, stay in control, manage your expenses and make you richer. Think of it as power steering for your finances.
Try a free 34-day YNAB trial, then decide for yourself. And tell us what you think!
2. Improve your credit
Like it or not, your credit score determines whether you’re approved for an apartment lease, the rate you’re offered on a mortgage, sometimes even how much you pay for car insurance. Improving your credit score will save you money and make life much easier.
Because credit scores play such an important part of our financial lives, it pays to keep track of yours and know how to manage it. The first step is to check your score. You don’t have to pay for it, though: Numerous services will give it to you for free — see “7 Ways to Get Your FICO Credit Score for Free.”
If you’re not happy with your score, be sure to also get free copies of your credit reports from the three major credit-reporting companies — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Your credit score is based on information in your credit report, so it can help you improve your score.
3. Pay off debt
Debt can destroy your financial dreams. If you’re staring up at a mountain of financial obligations, debt makes it impossible to get ahead.
Here are some tools that can help you get out of debt faster:
- Create a budget: The most important step you can take to eliminate debt is to track earnings and expenses. Once you know exactly where your money is going, you can set goals, measure progress and gain more control over your finances. You can use a tool like YNAB to automatically track spending and build your savings.
- Negotiate bills down: Credit card companies may work with you to lower your annual percentage rate (APR) or waive fees if you call and ask. You also can negotiate other monthly bills to help free up cash to pay off debt faster — or let a tool like BillCutterz or Trim do the negotiating on your behalf.
- Take advantage of balance transfers: Transferring your balance to a 0% APR credit card will let you avoid interest for up to 18 months, and sometimes a bit longer.
- Get help: If you need help with debt, or maybe just a little guidance or advice, all you have to do is call 888-739-9616. That’s the number for Debt.com, a national debt counseling company that will find you the right solution to pay off debt faster. Give them a call for a free consultation with a debt specialist.
Paying off debt takes effort, but it doesn’t have to be depressing. Implement gradual changes so the process is not too overwhelming.
4. Save on car insurance
Seriously, when was the last time you compared or otherwise evaluated car insurance costs? Car insurance is an expensive nuisance, but that doesn’t mean you should let it drain your bank account. Fortunately, there’s a super simple way to get a better deal and save hundreds of dollars.
Finding a better deal on car insurance doesn’t have to be a hassle. For example, you can have The Zebra, an insurance comparison site, compare quotes in just a few minutes and find you the best rates. Consumers save an average of $368 per year, according to the site. So, if you’re ready to secure your new rate, compare quotes now.
5. Find the right financial adviser
A financial adviser can assist you in reaching financial goals, whether that means maximizing investments or securing a comfortable retirement. Working with a financial adviser will give you peace of mind.
Here’s how to pick the right financial adviser:
- Check out credentials. Check out educational background and other professional credentials. The certified financial planner (CFP) designation is a good one.
- Ask about experience. Credentials and education are nice, but as with most things in life, experience is often the best teacher. If two professionals charge the same price, you’d certainly rather have one with 20 years of experience versus one with 20 months.
- Talk to several professionals before you decide. This is easily the single most important thing to do before hiring any financial professional. Talk with several candidates for the position, ask questions and find the one with the attributes you’re looking for.
Everyone needs a little help now and then, and that includes the financial kind.
These days, finding a financial adviser you can trust doesn’t have to be hard. A great place to start is with SmartAsset’s free financial adviser matching tool, which connects you with up to three qualified financial advisers in five minutes. Each adviser is vetted by SmartAsset and is legally required to act in your best interests.
If you’re ready to be matched with local advisers who will help you reach your financial goals, get started now.