April’s the time for rising temperatures, taxes and a new baseball season. It’s also Financial Confidence Month! It can take 30 days to start a new routine, and the time is now to tweak some of your money habits and boost your financial confidence not just in April, but for your future! Here are 30 quick tips—one for each day—that can make a big difference. If you’ve already knocked out some of the things on this list, congrats! Take a day off and rest assured knowing you’re already that much closer to reaching your goals.
- Open a savings account for emergencies only—real unexpected stuff, not just home repairs or vet bills that unfortunately happen to everyone. Shoot for an initial target of $1,000 and an eventual goal of three months’ worth of living expenses.
- It’s cool to start small. Kick off the savings process by setting aside just $10 or $20 every paycheck. The most important thing is to just get started!
- Separate from your emergency account, keep dedicated savings accounts for specific goals and—if possible—name them accordingly. Think “beach vacation,” “new car,” “down payment,” etc.
- Enroll in your company’s 401(k) plan and set up automatic contributions from your paycheck. Make it a goal to contribute at least 10% of your pre-tax pay. Already signed up? Fine-tune your budget so you can contribute a little bit more.
- If you’re not eligible for a 401(k)—or even if you are—set up an individual retirement account (IRA) to build additional pre-tax savings.
- Ready to start investing? Do your research. First make a list of all the stocks, mutual funds or other investments on your radar and check out their recent performance online.
- Is a job change in your future? It may be tempting to withdraw your 401(k) funds after you leave an employer, but that’s a bad idea that probably comes with penalties. Good news! There are no penalties for moving the money to your new employer’s plan or into a rollover IRA.
- Track your expenses (every single dollar!) for at least a month. Then figure out where you can make cuts. You’ll likely discover some places you can cut back where you’re spending more than you thought.
- Create a budget and stick to it … for real this time! Use an app or an online service, customize a spreadsheet or even put a pen to paper. Whatever method works best for you, just make sure you’re keeping track of every dollar.
- Rather than taking the scissors to your credit card, consider using it to meet your monthly budgeting goals and rack up rewards points in the process.
- Add a “just for fun” budget category to treat yourself to something you’ll really enjoy. Set a savings goal each month and if you meet it use the funds from this category to reward yourself!
Crunch the Numbers
- Check your credit score and understand how it’s calculated. See something that doesn’t look quite right? Consider filing a dispute, in writing, with the credit reporting agencies.
- Calculate your net worth. It’s simpler than you think: all of your assets, minus all of your liabilities.
- Make managing your bills easier by setting up alerts. Signing up for online bill pay reminders through your bank is a super simple way to stay on top of upcoming due dates.
- Setting up an automatic transfer from your checking account (or paycheck) can help you reach your goal. Gone are the days of setting deposit reminders on your smartphone—putting your FCA on autopilot can allow you to save more at a faster rate. That’s a win-win!
Rethink Your Debt Obligations
- Paying down credit card debt and sticking to a budget can be challenging. Use an online debt calculator and figure out how quickly you can pay off your credit card based on your timeframe or monthly payment.
- Create a debt elimination plan. Write down all of the debt you have (think car payment, student loans, credit cards) and order them from highest interest rate to lowest interest rate. Prioritize paying off the high-interest ones.
- Lower your interest payments over time by refinancing or making an additional payment or two each year on a mortgage or a car loan. This helps build equity, reduce the life of the loan and minimize total interest paid.
- You’re ready to make an offer on a home—congrats! The sale price is just one piece of the pie. Make sure you budget for all associated costs, like the home inspection, appraisal, closing costs and escrow fees.
- Check your bank statements for monthly subscriptions and recurring charges that you may have forgotten about (or can live without). Do you really need two gym memberships or four streaming services?
- Planning a trip? Strategic airfare stalking to find an affordable flight can really pay off. Subscribe to airline newsletters and follow their social media accounts, where sales and specials are typically announced first.
- Gearing up for a road trip? Stop by the grocery store before you head out and stock up on cheap basics like fruit, granola bars and sandwich fixings (PB&J!) rather than buying every meal while on the road.
- Think about your needs versus wants. If you lease a vehicle with high payments, consider ending the lease and buying a used car. Also look at how much you’re spending on wants, such as dining out or new pairs of shoes.
- Weddings are fun but can add up fast, especially if you’ve got a few on your calendar. Don’t feel like you need to attend them all. Gracefully saying “I don’t” from time to time is perfectly acceptable.
Up Your Income
- Diversify your revenue streams! With your values in mind, think about how you can find one additional source of income.
- If you don’t have time for a side gig to earn extra cash, consider what steps you can take to earn a promotion.
Think of Others
- Ready to say “I do” to a joint account? Think about the expenses you pay as a couple as “our” money, instead of “mine” and “yours.” After all, you’re in it together.
- If you’re a parent, you probably know how fast extracurricular activities can add up. When your child’s sports are in season, add budget line items for gas, travel, lodging, equipment and more.
- It's never too early to help your kids understand the importance of saving, and starting small is just fine. A piggy bank is one way to make saving money fun. Take it a step farther and match what your child puts in.
- Ready to give back? Add a line item to your budget for what you’d like to give and decide whether you’d like to give on a set schedule (like monthly).
This content is general in nature and does not constitute legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment advice. You are encouraged to consult with competent legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment professionals based on your specific circumstances. We do not make any warranties as to accuracy or completeness of this information, do not endorse any third-party companies, products, or services described here, and take no liability for your use of this information.