I MAY EARN MONEY OR PRODUCTS FROM THE COMPANIES MENTIONED IN THIS POST.
I have never actually made a long list-type article, but I have made three short list-type ones:
- 10 secrets to stay focused all day
- 7 things you MUST know about investing
- 5 Secrets to successful budgeting
So for my first long list-type article, I thought I would make one that would help as much as possible: quick things you can do this week to improve your financial life over the long term (and maybe forever, who knows). Here we go:
1) Have a look at your credit and debit cards
Depending on your financial habits, you might have several cards and you might or might not be closely tracking the aggregate balance of your cards. In under 20 minutes, you should be able to get all those out of your wallet, log into your online accounts, see the balances and add them together. If you don’t like the number, think about how to take necessary steps such as reducing your expenses, getting rid of subscriptions you are not using, etc. I recently got a credit card (I was only using a debit card before), and realised that it is a lot harder to control myself with a credit card because the balance goes in reverse and my debit account is still very much in the green (until payment date). Getting a figure that balances all your cards will pull you back to reality and help you change your spending habits.
2) Update that LinkedIn/CV
I think it’s fairly obvious how doing this can change your life forever. It should take you between 30min and 2 hours to get everything up to date and seek advice on the internet on how to best sell yourself based on your industry. Studies have shown that people who change jobs more frequently earn higher salaries. Updating your LinkedIn will also flag your profile to recruiters who will then get in touch with you and help you find new opportunities!
3) Read personal finance books and blogs
Take twenty minutes and go on Twitter, Pinterest or StumbleUpon or pick up a book on personal finance. You will sometimes find great articles that give you a boost and keep you motivated!
4) Cancel your unused subscriptions
Maybe you got a gym subscription at the start of the year and have gone 5 times since then… If so, you face a choice: find the motivation to go to the gym more regularly or accept that you will not visit frequently and cancel your subscription. Apply the same thinking to your to Netflix/Amazon and other digital accounts. A few dozen pounds here and there per month can add up to a few hundred per year, which could be put to better use! I promise this won’t take more than 15 minutes.
5) Get a new client
Depending on what you do, your revenue may depend on capturing an extra client. Get a list of prospects and get to work. Bear in mind that it could be anything that you can do: a side hustle like teaching a language, drive for someone, loan a specialised piece of machinery, audit someone’s finances/tax. Get in touch with the first person on your list (the most likely to become a new client) and expose the benefits of your work. If it doesn’t work, get on to the next person. It could take a few minutes to a few hours, but it is hopefully possible within a week.
6) Draft your first budget/work on your budget
I have a section on my blog dedicated to budgets but haven’t had time yet to populate it. Visit my article Why you need a budget https://www.makingsenseproject.com/2017/07/21/why-you-need-a-budget/ to get an idea of all the benefits of having one. In case you didn’t click on that link, this is the core idea: by tracking your income and expenses, you will optimise both and save a LOT of money.
7) Test a website
I have written a dedicated article about this on my blog before. In less than 15min, you can make $5-$10 by testing a website for companies. You will need to register as a tester and invitations to test websites will be sent to you. Don’t worry, you don’t need special qualifications: you only need to speak English!
Do this several times a month, and you can cash in more than $100 per month. That’s more than $1200 per year!
Here is a quick list of the websites you can try:
WhatUsersDo rewards at least $5 for every 15-10-minute website test.
UserTesting rewards $10 for every 10-15 minute website test.
Testingtime rewards 60 Swiss Francs per hour, with tests on site or at home via Skype
Enroll rewards points you can exchange for cash
Userfeel rewards $10 for every 10-20-minute website test.
TryMyUI rewards $10 for every 20-minute website test.
Userlytics rewards $10 for every 20-minute website test
8) Review your portfolio
When was the last time you properly reviewed your investments? And by properly reviewed I do not only mean looking at the return earned, but also how appropriate your investments are. Take half an hour to an hour to assess your portfolio, review your objectives and make some changes if necessary. Reviewing your portfolio could potentially change your life forever if you have the right strategy at the right time in your life.
9) Pull your credit report
I’m not going to link specific website as they will depend on which country you live in, and some websites are SCAMS, so please be careful and do some research before you start. Pulling your credit report takes about 15 minutes and will give you some idea of how banks will view your credit applications and what steps you need to take to improve your rating. Some people never pull their credit report and are sometimes unaware of what’s in there. Don’t be one of them and take control of your credit rating!
10) Clean up your wardrobe
Take some time on a weekend and go through your closets, you might find a few things you don’t need anymore. Eliminate the clutter by assessing your clothes one by one.
You then have 3 options: sell: on eBay or specialized website if you have some designer clothes or accessories. Give: to your local charity. Recycle: do not just throw it in the regular bin.
11) Set yourself financial goals
I have written about this a little in the past. Take a few minutes and get an accurate picture of your financial situation (see 6) draft your first budget). Once you have done that, create your financial goals. Here are the basic components of financial goals:
- Get a list of what you wish to accomplish, ranking them by how long you think it will take to achieve them.
- Estimate the cost of each goal: do some research and use your past experiences.
Set target dates for each goal and measure your progress against them.
- Integrate your goals into your budget
This can easily change your life, especially once you start accomplishing your goals.
12) Compare prices for your regular expenses
There are apps and websites nowadays to help you with that. The idea is to review your regular expenses and act as if you just started using a service/shopping at that particular store. For instance, how much are you paying to access the Internet and view this page right now? How much is the same service from another provider? In a couple of hours, make a list of expenses, and do some research on how to reduce those costs. You could be spending less on:
- banking and insurance products
- streaming services
- internet and mobile phone services
By reviewing your expenses and switching providers, you could save a few dozen £ every month and also end up happier with your new provider!
13) Eliminate spending temptations
I like vouchers and offers, we all do. But sometimes the temptation is too high for something we don’t really need to spending money on. There are two easy things you can do in less than 10 minutes to help with that: cancel any catalogue and newsletter you receive; cancel credit card offers. I found that these are the two most common traps to spend money I don’t want to spend. Do this, and your wallet (and future self) will thank you.
14) Start using the 30-days waiting period
I’m not sure this has a particular name, but the idea is simple. If you find yourself wanting to buy something on impulse, wait 30 days and check again to see if you still want it. Maybe it’s a nice jacket, a new laptop or a barbecue. Whatever it is, it can wait 30 days and if you really want it, buy it, and you’ll enjoy it even more. The good thing about this is that it takes no time at all and can change your behaviour in the long term.
15) Cycle/walk to work
Ditch the subway or the car for a day in the week, if you are able to, and your body and your wallet will thank you. Depending on where you live and work, it can take up to a couple of hours a day. If it is too far, you can try walking or cycling the last leg of your journey.
Let this become a habit, be healthier, and save money over the long term.
16) Schedule and plan your meals
This is a great thing to do and to integrate into your budget. There are so many benefits to this:
-no temptations of eating out because you are struggling to make or find something to cook at the last minute
-cooking in batches can lower your food expenses by buying more for less
-it minimizes your trips to the supermarket when you buy everything at once, avoiding unnecessary expenses.
It can take a few hours to plan, shop and prepare the food but once you get into the routine, it gets easier, and the temptations are gone.
17) Resist the daily coffee/tea/biscuit from the coffee shop
This used to cost me SO much every week. I wanted to find an excuse to walk outside for a bit and my excuse was, well you guessed it, getting coffee from outside. The problem is, coffee is expensive! Especially when you have this habit five times a week.
Try getting coffee from your office if you can, or bring a thermos from home for a week. Walk to the park instead of going to the coffee shop.
It only takes 5 minutes a day for a week, and the second week you’ll forget you can buy coffee from a shop!
18) Review your discounts
Yes I know I wrote a point on eliminating spending temptation, but if you do have to spend, take 10 minutes to review the advantages you might have: check out your usual voucher and discount websites such as Swagbucks, your membership cards, and student/senior discounts.
19) Build your recipe book
As you know, food expenses can be a significant part of your overall costs each week. Start cooking and save in a central word document/notebook or any filing method you prefer the recipes that you like. It will make it easier to plan your grocery list and meal plan for the week.
This will only take a few seconds every time you find a new recipe and a few minutes to build your original database.
20) Re-finance your loans
Get an appointment with your bank and review your loans. Some loans might have flexible terms, and your situation might have changed since you started repaying them back. It never hurts to check and see if you can get better terms today.
Literally only takes an hour or so at the bank.