There is something awesome about being ahead financially. You’re less stressed, you have more options, and things don’t feel as rushed.
I’ve gone through my life with ups and downs when it comes to money management. Sometimes I am financially confident and other times it feels like expenses just keep piling on.
I used to be in the predicament a lot of people have. I was working hard and had a full-time job, but I just couldn’t seem to get ahead. Debt repayments and high costs of living ate up a good portion of my income. Getting the next paycheck was always on my mind.
Things slowly started to change one day when I had a realization. I didn’t want to feel stuck in my finances all the time. I wanted to get ahead and focus on the long-term and becoming financially confident.
Of course, that was a lot easier to say rather than do. Nonetheless, I started to do several things to get ahead financially. I figured it was worth a shot to try something rather than do nothing,
Day to day, things didn’t feel like they were changing. I was monitoring my money, budgeting, and side hustling, but things didn’t feel different. Over time, though, I looked back and saw the positive effect the things I was doing had on getting me financially ahead.
If you feel stuck with your money situation, here are some things you can do to get financially ahead. While the day to day might feel not much, over time, these things could truly help you improve your financial life.
1) Track Your Spending
Do you know how much you are spending in certain areas? If you were to ask me a few years ago how much I spent on food or entertainment in a given month, I would probably have given you a vague answer at best.
I used to go through the month, wondering where my money went and how I could save more. Once I started tracking my spending, I was able to see exactly where my money went every month.
When you track your spending, you get to see exactly where your money is going. Down to the last cent. This can be helpful to look at when deciding what areas of your spending you need to cut down on.
Problem areas and overspending can be minimized when you track your spending. It’s relatively simple to get started tracking your income and spending. You can sign up for a free Personal Capital account, which lets you sync your accounts and get a full financial picture of your spending.
2) Cut Cable
I used to work for a large telecommunications company that provided cable and internet services. All the time, people would tell me how they only watched a handful of the channels they had with their 200 or 300 channel cable package.
A lot of people feel inclined to keep their cable package because it’s bundled with their internet service. However, I can tell you first hand there are internet only deals you can get, without having to add on cable.
There are plenty of alternatives out there when it comes to cutting the cord. Get thrifty, pick some low cost alternatives, and put the savings towards your money goals.
3) Have a Money Plan
Most like to call it budgeting, I like to call it a “monthly money plan”. Whatever you call it, having a monthly budget can help you manage your spending and set guidelines for yourself.
There’s no way I would have been able to travel as much as I have or pay off my debt if I didn’t have a budget. While I didn’t always stay within it, having it guided me to focus on my goals.
There are plenty of budgeting apps you can try out or even use a spreadsheet if you want. Try some out and see which one works best for you.
4) Maintain Consistency
One of my favorite pieces of productivity advice is the quote of “don’t break the chain”. Famous comic Jerry Seinfeld said it when asked about how he became good at his craft. He said he practiced every day and didn’t break the chain of days by stopping.
I apply the same principle to money management. I strive to maintain consistency in my saving, investing, and budgeting efforts so that I can stay on track to reach my goals.
Sure, there may be times when unexpected expenses pop up and things get get off track. However, you shouldn’t let it completely derail your motivation. Stay consistent. It’s the key to reaching your financial goals.
5) Consider a No-Spend Challenge
No-spend challenges are not about not spending anything whatsoever. It’s about not spending in problem areas you may have like shopping, eating out, entertainment, and big purchases.
It teaches you patience and helps you uncover spending triggers you may have. Maybe shopping or spending too much on food are your weak areas. A no-spend challenge forces you to be disciplined and patient. Consider doing one.
6) Automate Your Savings
Even when I was working a minimum wage job while in college, I still made it a point to automate my savings. Automating your savings is one of the best ways to create a consistent savings habit.
There are a number of ways to automate your savings. When I first started, I had my bank account set up to where whenever I made a purchase on my debit card, $1 dollar would be transferred into savings. It felt small but added up to a decent amount at the end of every month.
7) Put Your Money to Work
Savings accounts are great for emergencies or when you have a big purchase, but in order to truly get ahead financially, you need to also plan for the long term. One of the best ways to build your wealth is to put your money to work via investing it.
Investing doesn’t have to be scary or intimidating. There are lots of simple ways you get started investing, even if you don’t have a lot money.
8) Evaluate Your Income
While there are ways to save, spending less is not the only thing to consider. Look to the other side of making more and evaluate your income.
There are different ways to go about this. Research salary information via a site like Glassdoor to see if your salary is in line with other companies in your industry. Consider a higher-paying job. Learn new skills to increase your marketability.
Doing a side hustle can be a great way to make extra money, whether you’re underemployed or already making as much as you can at your full-time job.
A side hustle can help you reach your financial goals faster. Running my own blog and freelance writing side hustle has allowed me to become debt-free and pursue my interest in tech and digital marketing.
If you’re an introvert like me, then look at some side hustles for introverts. There are plenty of options when it comes to making extra money.
Getting ahead financially isn’t a quick process. It requires consistency and some curiosity and willingness to try out new things.
I used to hate budgeting, but after trying out a few options, I’ve come to love it. Saving used to be hard for me before I started automating it to make it easier. The key is to be have the desire to improve.
Everyone can get ahead. While situations may vary, there are always things you can do to improve your financial life, no matter where you are.
What have you done to get ahead financially?