If the wheels have come off your finances and you feel like you’ve lost control, it’s time to take back the reins.
Making just a few small adjustments can help get you on the right track.
These five quick tips can help you get back onto solid financial footing.
1. Write down your goals
If you’re feeling frazzled about your money, take a few minutes to write down your goals. Do you want to own a house? Pay down your student loans? Backpack through Europe?
Setting goals makes it easier to outline an actionable plan and stay disciplined.
“When you know you are saving for something rather than some amorphous goal of saving, that helps people focus more,” said Artie Green, a certified financial planner in Palo Alto, California.
2. Find one thing to eliminate
There’s likely a little spending fat that can be trimmed off your budget.
Review your spending and find areas that you can eliminate. Experts pointed to spending on things like monthly subscriptions, unused gym memberships, daily coffeehouse visits or pricey meal kits as possible areas to cut back on.
“You can re-apply that money elsewhere,” said Matthew Gaffey, senior wealth manager for Corbett Road Wealth Management. “That is all additional cash flow you can do something with to better improve your situation.”
Don’t feel like you have to make sweeping spending cuts.
For instance, pledging to no longer eat out when you’re used to eating at restaurants five days a week is a little unrealistic.
“Do it gradually. This is no different than sticking to a new nutritional plan,” said Niv Persaud, managing director at Transition Planning & Guidance in Atlanta. “If you want to scale back to 2,000 calories but you’re used to eating 3,500, it’s too much of a shock to the system. The same goes with finances.”
3. Remove temptation
Online shopping can be an easy gateway to overspending. To help remove the temptation to hop online and start adding items to your cart, Persaud advised turning off push notifications from retailers.
“They want you to buy more stuff and are going to send out great deals, but when you go to buy the deal it might be out of stock or no longer have your size, but now you are already on the site and more likely to still shop.”
Persaud also recommended creating an email address used just for retailers so you aren’t constantly being bombarded by sales when you check your email.
4. Rank your debt
If your debt situation is overwhelming you, it’s time to get a handle on the situation.
Write down all your outstanding loans and rank them from highest to lowest interest rates.
The experts recommended working to pay off the loans with the highest interest rates first, while still paying at least the minimum on the other debts.
“Look at all the debt you have and find ways to pay off the debt that is costing you the most money first,” said Green.
5. Automate savings
Make saving easier by setting up automatic transfers to fund your retirement and savings accounts, said Rich Bergen, a certified financial planner in New York.
By paying yourself first, that means you aren’t limited to saving whatever is left over at the end of the month.
“When you set up savings to be automatic, it becomes habit,” said Bergen. “And you are more likely to stick with it.”