I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling particularly motivated for 2019. That might have something to do with the fact I just finished reading The 10x Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure.
Essentially, according to author Grant Cardone, real success stems from taking massive action. So don’t settle for small goals. Stretch yourself. Take your original goal and multiply it by 10 – but importantly, also amp up your efforts to achieve it by 10 times as well. Hence, the 10x rule.
Okay, so saving $1000 a month instead of $100 might just not be on the cards for you right now, but why not shoot for $250 or $500? If it doesn’t hurt, it’s not ambitious enough. Stretch yourself a little and you might amaze yourself with how much you can make happen in a short amount of time.
To help you get ahead in 2019, here are the best financial moves you can make to get more out of your money this year!
Slash and burn
Step one: review your spending and see what you can cut out right now! A few small changes could make a huge difference to your cash flow and free up a chunk of money every month going forward.
It’s those regular monthly bills that really eat into your paycheck; a random $40 subscription doesn’t feel like much (it’s only $10 a week!) but it adds up to nearly $500 over a year.
Set at least one savings goal
There’s always something vying for your hard-earned dollars, right? A long overdue trip, a renovation, even that dental work you’ve been putting off forever. When you know exactly what you’re up against – with a date and a dollar amount – you can work backwards and start saving now. Otherwise … hate to break it to you, but without a firm goal, it ain’t gonna happen by itself.
Shore up your savings
Speaking of savings, one thing everyone needs is a rainy day account! In a perfect world, we’d all have an emergency fund with 3-6 months of living expenses socked away.
Fingers crossed you never have to face a layoff or medical crisis … but should the worst happen, you have a buffer you can count on. It could save you from taking on debt during a rough patch and/or falling into an unfortunate financial hole.
Things like car or home repairs should have their own category in your budget, but if you’re not quite there yet, then an emergency fund is all the more important.
Hack your biggest expenses for the biggest savings
Housing and transport are probably the biggest categories that suck up your cash. So if you can reduce (or even eliminate) these costs, you’ll be away laughing.
If you’re less klutzy/anxious than I am, what about channelling Mr Money Mustache – that is, ditching the car and joining the bike brigade? Cycling around everywhere is free, minus the initial outlay, and a great workout. Mopeds/scooters are another economical alternative to driving. Or if your commute lends itself to public transport, like mine, commit to using transit Monday-Friday and keep the car parked at home until the weekend to avoid paying usurious weekday rates. (It would literally cost me twice as much to drive, not to mention the increased wear and tear … and the unquantifiable stress of navigating rush hour traffic!)
If you have an extra bedroom you can rent out, that’s a great way to reduce your housing costs. But choose your roommates wisely; a bad one costs way more than they’re worth. Or you could consider moving to a cheaper place. Bonus if you can live within walking distance of work!
At the extreme end, I know a few people who work remotely (they’re mostly self-employed, as you might have guessed) who’ve managed to find a way to skip paying rent. Since it doesn’t matter where they physically locate themselves, they hop from housesitting gig to housesitting gig. It’s not a way of life for everyone, but if you can string together enough housesitting assignments to keep a roof over your head … imagine how many thousands of dollars you could save a year!
Make more money
More money in your pocket … sounds good right? Make it your mission to grow your take-home income this year.
Bite the bullet and ask for a raise (don’t be like me and hold your tongue through your first three jobs – you can’t get what you don’t go after). Work towards the next step up, or if a promotion isn’t in the cards or doesn’t appeal, consider whether it’s time to look for a new job elsewhere. Job hopping is usually the best way to command a significant salary increase.
At the very least, dust off your resume and make sure it’s up to date. I’m always amazed at how many achievements I’ve got to add each year – it’s easy to lose track in the daily grind…
Find at least one way to bring in extra money
Ideally on a recurring basis, but even a one-off or something irregular is a great start! Visit sidehusl.com for some great ideas to get started.
Personally, I’ve had a lot of luck with mystery shopping over the years – it’s netted me many free bus rides, pub meals, even McDonald’s, not to mention actual cash payments.
Tutoring is another side hustle I used to maximize and it’s an avenue worth exploring, especially if you have any specialist subject knowledge. I just taught English and helped students out with essays and reports, more or less; if you have math or science chops, or even say, law or accounting expertise, you can command a high hourly rate. Especially if you can tutor college students, that’s worth more than your run-of-the-mill high school tutoring session!
Why not sign up to some local market research firms? Focus groups can be a lucrative if irregular source of side income. You might get to sample new food products, give feedback on new brands and packaging, discuss your shopping habits or even get paid to watch ads.
If you happen to have a spare room at home, consider monetizing that space through Airbnb or looking for a roommate. Even if you don’t, I bet you’ve got some stuff sitting around gathering dust. Maybe it’s that collection of golf clubs or a stash of shoes you no longer use or need. Some of it is bound to be worth money! See what similar stuff is going for on eBay and get in on the action. Apps these days make the process even easier – Poshmark, for example, makes offloading old clothing a cinch.
Keep your credit clear
Even if you’re not going to be applying for credit anytime soon, monitoring your credit report is just good practice to ensure there aren’t any errors that could make your life a hassle. Make it a habit to request yours every year.
You’re entitled to an annual copy from the major credit reporting firms, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – see annualcreditreport.com. The super-vigilant can sign up for credit monitoring to get alerts when anything changes; creditkarma.com offers this for free, along with access to your credit score.
Annihilate your debts
If you’re carrying high-interest debt, make this the year you get serious about paying it down.
As with your savings goal, set a target for your debt payoff. Maybe you want to pay $500 a month towards your debts, or reduce your total debt by 20% or get your balances owed down to $3000. Get specific! And get strategic.
The snowball method is the most efficient: using this technique you focus your efforts on your highest interest debt and then move on to the next highest.
But the avalanche approach can be more personally satisfying, in which you tackle your smallest debt first. The reward of a quick win can be a huge psychological boost; only you can know which is right for you. Debt is a huge mental burden that stands in the way of your goals. Either way, buying back your freedom starts with committing to a plan.
Ensure you’re insured for all the right things
This is a two-fold one: check that you’re covered for what you need (getting it wrong could majorly set you back) and that you’re getting the best deal possible right now.
My partner’s been caught out without car insurance more than once and believe me, it’s just not worth it. Of all the false economies, this is my pick – don’t skip it! But don’t overinsure, either. If you’re driving an old beater of negligible value, paying for full cover probably doesn’t make financial sense.
Home and contents cover is also pretty dang important – in the unlikely event that you lose everything in a disaster, replacing it all isn’t going to come cheap. Go on, add up how much your current shoe collection cost all up, or how much your electronics are worth!
Do you need personal insurance as well? If anyone else depends on your income, term life insurance is a good place to start. One rule of thumb is to take out 10 times you annual income. At the least, you probably want to make sure any debts would be covered in the event of your death. And if you’ve got a lot of assets, then umbrella insurance might be worth investigating.
Of course, it pays to shop around every year and make sure you’re getting the best price possible on all your insurance policies. But don’t overlook any discounts you could get for having multiple policies with the same company – they can be quite significant. And if you’re still looking to trim back your premiums today, do the sums and work out if increasing your deductible (what you’d need to pay towards a claim) makes sense for your finances.
Learn to love the stock market
If the thought of investing is scary, consider the alternative – putting money into a savings account just isn’t going to grow enough over time to support you in your old age. Seriously, we all need to invest our money in order to outpace inflation. A savings account returning 2% definitely won’t cut the mustard here. On the other hand, stocks as measured by Standard & Poor’s 500 index average a 10% annual return. And yes, it might feel like there’s no way you can ever save enough for retirement, but that’s no excuse. Something beats nothing, and the earlier you start, the more time the market has to do its thing.
Make this the year you take the leap if you haven’t already … and if you have, take it even more seriously and get familiar with what you’re invested in, review your asset allocation and rebalance your portfolio as needed. Or just roll with a fund designed for your age group (they’re called target date funds) and call it a day.
Not sure where to start? If your employer matches your contributions, make sure to take full advantage of this benefit. That’s as close to free money as you’re ever going to get! Here’s what you need to know about 401k, Roth and IRA accounts. And here’s a few tips for choosing your 401k investments.