5 WAYS TO MAKE MONEY NOW There’s no better time than after filing taxes to take a close look at your finances and make headway toward being more financially fit and organized. If you’re not already doing these, you can’t afford to put off these simple money moves any longer.
1. CLEAN UP YOUR ACT Spring cleaning is not just for shining windows and shampooing carpet. Set aside some time to clean up your financial files too. Find your own system for organizing your bills and financial papers. Do you prefer an accordion file and binders or an all-electronic system? You be the judge of what your perfect organizing system may be; but clean up your act and make an effort to keep it organized. Shred and recycle papers you don’t need, and stay on top of de-cluttering.
2. SPEND MORE WISELY It takes time and effort to form new habits. Don’t set yourself up for failure by making extreme changes in your spending habits (if you don’t have to), but make a conscious effort to tweak the way you spend your money a little bit at a time. For example, try to give up just one thing you don’t need. Maybe it’s the premium cable channels, a club membership no one is using, or a lesson your kids wouldn’t miss. Or, maybe it’s the choice not to buy the concert tickets or the steak dinner, yet opt for a fun, more frugal outing. Giving up one thing is not about depriving yourself, it’s about making a choice to keep
more cash in your pocket that you’ll use in a different way. Or, avoid rash purchases. Instead, be conscious about your spending by asking yourself a few simple questions when you shop: Why do I need this? How often or for how long will I be able to use it? Can I find it at a better price? Would I rather have something else?
3. LOSE THE DEBT If you have debt hanging over your head, there’s no time like the present to tackle paying it off. The snowball method, made popular by personal finance guru Dave Ramsey, has been a successful debt-payoff approach for many people. The snowball focuses on paying off debts smallest to largest as a way of achieving “quick wins” that help build motivation and modify behavior, as well as focusing the intensity of paying off one debt at a time. If you prefer another approach, so be it. The key is not to fall back into the habit of living outside your means so debt doesn’t happen again. Even if you have a long way to go before you become debt-free, start with baby steps and a game plan. You’ll sleep better at night and free up new opportunities once this burden is lifted.
4. SAVE MORE Hand-in-hand with forming good habits so you don’t fall into debt, focus on stashing cash for rainy days — and big purchases you hope to make (the fun part of saving!). Life can be hectic and full of unexpected
expenses, so saving more may seem daunting. But every little bit adds up over time. Any time you come across unexpected cash, such as a tax refund, resist the temptation to spend it all and instead save at least a portion of it. This goes for any bonus, rebate, gift, garage sale earnings, and the little bit you regularly save by spending more consciously. Consider automatically putting a portion of your paycheck into a savings account if that makes it easier for you. A doable goal for many people is to save $170 per month, for example, which will add up to $2,040 by this time next year — a decent stash of cash to have available for unexpected expenses.
5. INVEST IN YOUR (FUTURE) SELF When is the last time you evaluated your 401(k) or IRA allocation? And are you investing as much as you can into your retirement account? Many Americans will not have enough to live on when they retire. Don’t be one of them. If you aren’t sure how to allocate your retirement fund, take advantage of any advice your employer or 401(k) provider may offer, talk with an outside financial advisor, or use a low-cost “robo-advisor” service, such as the local firm blooom.com, that will do the work for you. Spending just a small amount of time making some wise decisions now can equate to thousands (even hundreds of thousands) of dollars more for future-you to live on. You’ll thank yourself later.