I think there’s some truth to the title of Larry Wignet’s book You’re Broke Because You Want to Be. Heck, I’m broke because I made the (albeit uninformed) decision to buy things I couldn’t afford for about five years. But I don’t want to be broke anymore, and if you don’t either, here are five things—easy things—that you can do today (before you even leave your computer). Really.
1. Put $5 in a savings account; plan to save $1,000 in six months. Nothing separates the broke from the financially secure like emergency savings. With online savings accounts offering great interest rates, automatic transfers from your bank, and requiring just $1 to open an account, there’s no excuse for not saving a few dollars. Don’t have an account? I’ve got you covered with reviews of the five best online high-yield savings accounts.
2. Take $5 and pay down a debt. Pick a debt, any debt, but preferably a high-interest consumer debt like a credit card or personal loan. The plan is to put $5 to the debt above and beyond your regular minimum payment. (Pay more if you can, but starting the habit—right now—is the priority). Get into this habit of paying whatever you can above the minimums each month. You’ll get out of debt faster and pay far, far less interest over the course of the loan.
3. Put something you don’t use up for sale. Do it now with either eBay or Craigslist. Maybe it’s a bike you don’t ride, or a gadget you’ve since updated to the latest model. Or it can something as small as a book. Get into the habit of reducing your belongings (and earning some cash in the process), and you will get used to forgoing more new purchases, which will really pay off in the long run.
4. Get your credit report. In my experience, the broker we are, the less we want to look at our financial situation—whether it’s our debt level or credit history. But even if we haven’t been great with credit, our credit report can still be improved (and worse, it may still contain errors). There are several sites that will let you get your credit report for free in a matter of minutes…you can compare them in this post about credit score monitoring services compared.
5. Write down your long-term financial goals. There’s no better way to justify your current spending habits and reside to being broke for life than to stare at a pile of debt, a stagnate salary, and an empty bank account. So stop doing that! Instead, envision where you want financially in five years. Totally debt-free? Earning twice the money? Your own boss? Whatever your goal is. Write it down. Write down how much money you want to have, and when. Then work backwards. How will you get there? How can you start to get there today? Revisiting your goal whenever the going gets tough will give you the mental strength you’ll need to permanently change your financial habits and to stop being broke!
This post is my contribution to the ProBlogger guest writing project on killer titles. I hope my title piqued your curiosity and that the post didn’t disappoint. As promised, the above five steps can be done in about 10 minutes and with $10, and are great building blocks for a total financial makeover. Wherever you are in your financial journey…good luck!