This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.
A survey of 1,000 adults who are at least 30 found that 57% had plans to reduce their debt over the course of a year. The other big finding of the survey was that 50% wanted to save more. While it’s great that a lot of people understand the importance of being financially responsible, as with any goal, there’s a big difference between setting one and actually accomplishing it.
If you want to improve your overall financial situation by accomplishing goals like paying down debt and putting more into savings, it’s important to have a realistic plan to follow. When it comes to this type of plan, most people’s exact needs differ from one another. That being said, there are some key strategies that can work for just about anyone who wants their finances to be more stable.
Since knowing what you need to do and what actually works is a big part of improving the outlook of your finances, let’s cover the key steps you should ensure are in the plan that you create for yourself:
Start By Putting Out Fires
It’s nearly impossible to focus on long-term goals when you have one or more pressing problems right in front of you. In fact, researchers have proven that not having the money you need to live a stable life can literally drain brain power. So if there are any major financial burdens hanging over your head, it’s important to tackle them before you start whipping the rest of your finances into shape.
Although overcoming that kind of problem may sound next to impossible, there actually is a solution. Since cash is exactly what you need to say goodbye to this type of issue for good, a car title loan or pawn from TitleMax can provide up to $10,000. What’s especially appealing is even if your financial history is less stellar than you would like, you won’t have to worry about a credit check getting in the way of your approval. Then once you get this money, you can eliminate the problem that was dragging you down, and then set your sights on a brighter financial future.
Automate to Eliminate Friction, Indecision and Procrastination
Automation is one of the best ways to avoid shooting yourself in the foot. This tip works for paying down debt, saving and just paying your bills. In less than an hour, you should be able to set up payments that will automatically deduct those funds when you get paid. The great thing about this approach is not only does it save you from needing to remember deadlines, but even more importantly, you won’t ever be tempted to spend that money on things that aren’t in line with the financial goals you’re trying to accomplish.
Be Conscious of Your Spending
While there are people who say that you should cut out all non-essential spending, that’s the financial equivalent of diets that are impossible to follow because they require people to stop eating 99% of the foods they enjoy. Instead of depriving yourself of things like eating at a restaurant, a better approach is to really be aware of where your money is going. By using an app to track every transaction you make, and then reviewing your spending at the end of each week, you’ll be able to see if there are any areas where you should cut back.
Choose Cash Over Cards
This is the perfect complement to the previous strategy. Once you’ve tracked your spending for a few weeks, you’ll have a fairly good idea of what’s reasonable for you to spend on non-essential expenses. If you want the easiest way to keep your spending at those levels, simply “pay” yourself that amount of cash. Then when that cash is gone, you’ll know that you will have to wait until you get “paid” again to spend money on going out. This is a simple but very effective way to eliminate the temptation to overspend.
If you put the above steps into action, it shouldn’t take long for you to begin seeing positive results. And keep in mind that if you feel like you need additional assistance getting a manageable plan, it’s almost always worth the small investment to meet with a reputable financial planner.
Nelson Taylor is a personal finance blogger. After making a few bad financial choices in college, he completely transformed his approach to money. And now that he also supports a family, he uses blogging as a way to share all the valuable financial lessons he’s learned over the last decade.