How have you improved your situation today?

Every day, in some small way, it’s important to do something to improve your situation.  Whether it’s paying down debt, researching inexpensive alternatives to your existing expenses, or something as simple as hugging your spouse or playing games with your kids.

Educate

I was once told that every day, you either get smarter, or you get dumber.  Don’t do the latter.   Never pass up an opportunity to educate yourself.    Make the day good for you.

  • Read a book.  There are hundreds of personal finance books available.  Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover is a great place to start.
  • Read a blog.  Once again, lack of choice is not a problem here.  There are thousands of choices.  My favorites are in my sidebar, to the left.
  • Find a mentor.  Failing that, get a PF-Buddy. Find someone you can call when you need the moral support to make an appropriate or difficult financial decision.
  • Take a class.  Whether it’s a personal finance class, or some other way of improving yourself, do it.  Many cities offer affordable community education classes. Ad Hoc college courses are another option.

Elucidate

It’s incredibly important to understand your situation.  If you don’t know where you are, how can you control where you’re going?

  • Examine your finances.   I heartily recommend Quicken to track your finances, but Mint is a great place to see where your money has gone.
  • Know your debt.  It’s important to know your debt. Own it.  Know your fees and your rates.  Know every cent you owe.  Get a spreadsheet or a notebook and write it all down. Keep it updated.   Mint is great for this.  I update my debt-sheet monthly.
  • Know your spending.   This is another plug for Mint.   There’s no better way to see where your money has gone in the past.  I use Quicken for the present and future, Mint for the past and snapshots.
  • Find your waste. Do you have the cheapest plans that meet your needs for television, internet, phone service?  Do you have AAA and roadside assistance through your insurance company?
  • Talk to your spouse.  Discuss your finances. Make sure everyone is on the same page and there are no surprises or hidden bills.  Plan together.
  • Eliminate problems early.  If you see a problem, eliminate it before it gets out of control.  The earlier you identify a problem, the easier it is to eliminate.
  • Family meeting.  Get the family together so everyone can participate, even the children.   Young eyes sometimes have a clarity that a lifetime of habits has clouded. If your kids understand the concept of money, they are old enough to participate and even help.   Brainstorming means that no idea is a bad idea.  It may not be implemented, but everything is worth hearing.

Eradicate

What’s left? Eliminate baggage.  Kill your bills.  If you’re paying for something you don’t want or need, get rid of it!

  • Unnecessary items.  Do you have an extra cell phone or an insured motorcycle in the garage?  Time to cancel.
  • Unused items. Do you really use the movie package in your cable bill?  Are you saving money with Netflix, or would Redbox be a better option?
  • Forgotten bills.  Did you sign up for an identity protection scheme or an appliance repair plan for an appliance that no longer exists?  Cancel!
  • Fees.  What fees are you paying?  Do you have an annual fee for your credit card or minimum balance fees at your bank?  Find new institutions.  Loyalty to your bank may be costing you money.

Unused or unnecessary bills are nothing but unhappiness generators. They don’t provide value so trim the waste and get rid of what you don’t need.

 

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