Small Changes with Big Financial Impact

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Financial Stability

Saving a lot of money is like an attempt at climbing a seemingly insurmountable mountain. If you focus on the sheer size and terrifying drops, you’ll never get started. You make progress by taking it one slow, steady step at a time.

Learn to go about your financial goals the same way.

If you want to live a debt-free life, there are minor lifestyle changes that you can start right away to reach this goal.  These small changes will make a big impact on your long-term financial goals.

Here are some tips, from financial experts and real people who have tried and tested them, that will greatly improve the health of your bottom line.

Reduce stress

You are already aware that stress can wreak havoc on your health. But have you considered the ways it affects your financial health? More and more workers are taking days off due to stress-related issues. Stress at work will keep you from being optimally productive, ruin your chances of a promotion and could ultimately get you sacked. None of these scenarios will help your bank account.

And a vicious cycle emerges; money worries will stress you out and further wreck your finances.

Break that cycle

While stress is a part of life, correctly identifying and eliminating the stressors you can eliminate will go a long way to reduce your stress. Some other ways you can reduce stress include:

  • Exercise: It is Important to maintain your overall health and wellness.  Exercise also offers major stress-relief benefits.

You remember that good-feeling that stays with you after a good run? Known as runner’s high, it’s caused by the increased production of endorphin – a brain chemical or neurotransmitter which activates good-feelings in your brain –  triggered by the work-out. Any rousing activity like swimming or dancing can induce the same feelings.

When you are completely immersed in a sport or fast-paced activity, you will concentrate on your body motion and won’t have time to think of unpaid bills or a looming deadline.  

The laser-like focus on a single activity will calm and clear your head.

Exercising regularly will improve your mood by lowering symptoms of mild depression.  According to Mayo clinic, exercise in almost any form can act as a stress reliever. It greatly reduces your stress and improves sleep which can be disrupted by stress, anxiety and depression.

“Reality is the leading cause of stress amongst those in touch with it.” – Jane Wagner

All these benefits of exercise will keep you relaxed, happier, and more productive.

  • Relaxation techniques: The modern life is getting busier. You feel you don’t have time to relax. But relaxation is vital in the management of stress. It’s important you make out time to recharge and repair the toll of stress on your body and mind.

Some relaxation technique you should take up include tai chi, yoga, progressive muscle relaxation and meditation. Walking is also great for relaxing your mind and body, especially hiking amidst serene nature.

Relaxation techniques slow your breathing and focus your overactive mind.

Review your subscriptions

Daily, we are inundated with offers of attractive subscription services. From Books or magazines to computers software to gym memberships – there seems to be a subscription for everything.

The service providers use the reliable ‘hook’ of convenience and a fairly reasonable monthly fee to sell these compelling subscriptions. But this seemingly small fees tend to add up over time without your noticing it.

Most of them are renewed automatically and if you’re not regularly tracking your expenses, could deal a big blow to your budget.

Make time to periodically audit your subscription and cancel those that you can do without or do not fit into your budget. Look closely at the ones you still want to maintain. Are there free alternatives? Consider paying upfront for your subscriptions. While the lower monthly fees are attractive, you will save more in the long run because many service providers offer discounts if you pay upfront.

Create more room in your monthly budget for your goals by trimming your subscription costs with these practical tips:

  • Magazines –Let’s face it. There are magazines you get in the mail but hardly read. Cancel those subscriptions immediately. If you want to catch up on your latest interests, visit the local library.
  • Cable –Take a look at the shows you watch, and you’ll see that a downgrade is in order. That you don’t really need to pay for all that stuff you don’t watch. You should consider cutting the cables on your cable TV altogether. Streaming services like Hulu and Netflix offer your favorite shows at a fraction of the cost.
  • Gym Membership –If you visit your Gym less than twice a week, then it’s time you reconsider your membership. Cancel it and see if you still miss it. After all, you can still keep fit by running and using your body weights.
  • Credit Rating Agency –Why do you feel it’s necessary to pay monthly to have your credit monitored? Pulling all your three reports will give you the same information as a paid credit report from one agency.

3. Review your insurance policies

  • Auto insurance

Review your auto insurance policy every now and then. The idea is to maintain the right coverage at the right pricing.

Start with the declaration page of your auto insurance policy. This contains the summary of your insurance policy and explains who or what is covered. It also contains information about discounts that you have or could be eligible for.

Check your mandatory coverage. This is the minimum insurance coverage required of you by law. It includes bodily injury and property damage liability protection. An umbrella policy, which provides inexpensive personal liability coverage, will help keep your liability coverage low on your auto and home insurance.

Look closely at your optional insurance protection which can include collision and comprehensive coverage, uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, loan lease coverage, etc. Consider cutting the unnecessary ones as they can make your insurance rather costly.

Cut cost by raising the deductible on your collision and comprehensive coverage.

Check for discounts in your policy. Contact your agent if there are none because everyone qualifies for some sort of discount.

You can shop around for better quotes from other companies. And use the information to bargain for discounts on your auto insurance policy.

  • Life Insurance

Life insurance is very important, but it can get expensive. Here are ways you can save money on life insurance

  • Buy just enough coverage: the first step to keep your insurance cost down is figuring out exactly how much insurance you need. The more coverage you purchase, the more premium you’ll have to pay.
  • Make annual premium payments: while it may not be easy to part with a large sum at once, paying yearly for your life insurance saves you a lot of money. Monthly payments are often higher or come with fees.
  • Stick with term life: choose term life policy over whole life. Term life is cheaper and covers you for a set number of years. While whole life builds cash value, it only keeps you covered if you continue paying the premium. You won’t get equity value with term life, but you can make up by investing in an IRA or a brokerage account.
  • Compare pricing: take the time to shop around and compare quotes from different companies to get the best deal.
  • Look after your health: save on premium by living healthier- quitting smoking, exercising regularly and eating healthy. This will allow you to go for a policy that requires a medical exam and therefore a lower premium.

4. Refinance your car loan

Evaluate your current package to see if refinancing will save you some money.

Refinancing your auto loan means getting a new loan to replace your existing loan. The idea is to save money by paying lower interest.

Is an auto loan refinancing for you?

To find out, first determine the outstanding balance on your existing loan or the payoff amount. Look at the amortization schedule to find out how much interest you have to pay for the remaining duration of the loan.

Add your existing loan principal to the estimated interest to get the amount that you want to replace with the new loan.

Shop for a loan with a lower interest rate and only refinance when you can get a lower rate. You can get a lower monthly repayment if you struggle to meet up with obligations, but that means you have to pay more in total

Check the total cost for different available loan terms. Shortening your loan term will mean that you’ll make a higher monthly repayment but pay less for your car overall. Keeping the loan, the same as your old loan means you will pay slightly less monthly and save money over the course of the loan.

To get a lower monthly payment, you can get a loan with a longer term. But you will pay more over the life of the loan. However, if the interest rate reduction is significant, you can save monthly and over time as well.

5. Start eating out less

Eating out is convenient and expensive. You can significantly cut cost by reducing the number of times you eat out. Additionally, preparing your own meals will help you eat healthier.

Planning your meals ahead is a great way to reduce eating out. You can plan monthly and shop in bulk to further increase your savings.

Avoid the temptation to eat lunch during the work week by packing your lunch to work.

One of the challenges of cooking at home is the time and efforts required to prepare the meals. You can start preparing the ingredients before going to work. You can also take advantages of time-saving convenience foods or cook in bulk and freeze them to be eaten over time.

Conclusion

Making these changes is not difficult. The problem is our behavior. We are so focused on making money fast and as much as we can that we overlook these little things. Look at the suggested tips above and see which ones you can start right away. These small cutbacks will surely yield a significant impact on your finances.  

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