If we can hack our daily tech life, travel or house cleaning hacks, we can hack our finances as well. Some people are lucky enough not to have to worry about money. Unfortunately, for the rest of the world, we need to think about how we live our financial lives. Therefore, we need best but realistic financial hacks that we can use right now.
So, read on for fifteen great financial hacks that will not only keep you from being poor but may also help you retire early.
1. Don’t have any debts
The first and probably most important of all financial hacks is to avoid debts at all costs. Of course, some debts are better than others, mortgages and student loans immediately come to mind, but as a general rule of thumb, don’t get into debt. If you do fall into debt, your main aim in life should be to get out of it as soon as possible.
2. Write down your debts
If you’re older than the average millennial, then point #1 may no longer be an option. If you are in debt, you need to pay it off quickly. Make a list of all your debts from the largest to the smallest. Each month, pay off the lowest first, working your way up to the biggest. If you have trouble doing this, get a best friend to help; it may be more complicated than you think.
3. Keep a Budget
Some bills are easy to budget for because they are fixed; for example, utility bills, car payments, and college funds. Other bills are variable, and these are the ones that you need to be strict about.
If you set a budget of $100 for food each week, then you must keep to that, even if this means forgoing that delicious looking cake. Same goes for your traveling; even you can use some travel hacks to reduce your traveling cost. Remember, your financial hacks will only work if you stick to the rules.
4. Have an emergency fund
Build up an emergency fund as quickly as you can. This should be one of the first things you do. If you need to make a payment for something, whether it’s a medical bill, a car accident, or a family emergency, it’s much better to pay with the fund than with a bank loan or credit card.
5. No credit cards…ever
Speaking of credit cards, get rid of plastic heroin. They are the 21st century’s biggest curse, and if our governments were in any way interested in us, they would have made credit cards illegal decades ago.
And if you’re saying to yourself you need a card because you can’t make ends meet, then definitely do not have or get one. Cut down on your outgoings rather than get a credit card. As financial hacks go, this one is a must.
6. Cancel what you don’t need
This may be a tough one, but there are probably many things in your life that you don’t actually need. If you’re paying for cable, canceling that will almost certainly save you a fair amount of money. If you’re paying for a gym membership, cancel that as well. Use your imagination, and I’m sure you can think of ways to do what you’re doing now without the fortune you’re spending on going to the gym.
7. Use coupons
Different countries do different things when it comes to discounting food, but many supermarkets have coupons. Use them to get money off your weekly shopping bill. And be strict. Don’t alter your budget for your weekly shopping. Use the extra money you save using coupons to pay off more debts or add to your emergency fund.
8. Don’t go out
Going out is expensive and almost always unnecessary. If you and your friends like meeting in a bar for drinks or for a meal, change the venue to your own homes. You can rotate whose house is used, make the meals potluck and bring your own booze. This will save everyone a fortune over an entire year. If your friends don’t want to do this, find new friends.
9. Don’t shop online
Online shopping is great, but it’s also a great way to spend money unnecessarily. If you’ve been following the financial hacks above, you should have cut up your credit cards by now, so you can’t use them to shop online anyway.
Make sure you also cancel any online processors you have. Payment processors like PayPal are like credit cards, no more than legalized theft. Get rid of them all and stop paying ridiculous fees.
10. Have a time-out
I realize that for some readers, online shopping is a necessity; for example, for those of you suffering from some sort of disability. If this is you, set a time-out period and make it reasonably long.
If you see something you want to buy, put it on the list and go back to it in one or two months. If you remember and still need the item, buy it. If you forget about it or forget what you wanted it for, you don’t need it.
11. Don’t spend unnecessarily
Continuing on the same theme as the last two financial hacks, don’t buy things you don’t need. I know it sounds obvious, but you need to keep this in mind at all times. Unless it’s food or an emergency item, just put it on your time-out list, which you should have if you shop online or not.
12. Give yourself rewards
All this saving money and not going out is going to become a bit tiresome after a while. Don’t be afraid to reward yourself when you reach a goal you set. And make sure you set goals. You should have in goals in life no matter what plans you are making and financial goals should be included as well, if for no other reason than to give yourself that reward.
13. Ask for a raise
One of the simplest of all financial hacks is to ask for a raise. It’s an easy way to have more spending money, pay off debts more quickly, and generally enjoy yourself more. The quickest way to achieve this is to go see your boss tomorrow and ask for more money. If he or she says no, say thank you and then start looking for work that pays better.
14. Get a second job
If your financial situation is dire, get a second job. Having two jobs works very well. Not only are you earning more money but, because you are too tired to do anything else, another job is a great way to save money as well. If the idea fills you with dread, set yourself a goal of only doing it for six months. Trust me, it will make a big difference to your finances.
15. Start investing your money
Finally, start investing. Your money sitting in a bank account somewhere is not making your money work well for you. Work out the best ways to save money and which give the best tax advantages, of course, and start doing it.
Now that you have put all of the financial hacks above in motion, you will soon be seeing a vast improvement in your finances. No one is saying that your life is not going to be difficult for a time, but if you can do all or at least some of the above, your older self will thank you profusely.