Whether debts are crushing and your credit is a mess or you are almost able to retire right now, upping your financial situation, even a bit, can make life easier. The first step is to become aware. Credit repair may be part of your future, and you may need to invest in different ways.
Start Where You Are
Understand where your money is going and why there may not be enough each month. A simple step is to go back to cash for your basic needs. For one month, if you cannot pay cash, do not buy it.
- no credit or store cards
- no online shopping
You will also want to save your receipts as you buy groceries and other consumables. At the end of the month, you should have receipts totaling the cash you spent. If you do not balance, you know that you have at least one financial leak that needs to be addressed.
Now that you know there is a leak, it is time to figure out where the money is trickling away. A very simple way to do this is to plan a freekend, or a no-spend stretch of time.
A freekend will require some planning, as you will not be spending any money from Friday morning to Monday evening. You will need to make a food inventory and then a grocery list to fill in. Remember, you are not planning for a siege. It is only four days.
Now that you have shopped, you will need to find activities to fill up your weekend time. You can
- pack a picnic and go to a local park
- dig out those binoculars and go out early to check out the wildlife
- get your bicycle tires aired up and go for a ride
- visit local museums on free day
By the end of the weekend, you will have an understanding that shopping is shopping, not entertainment. You will probably also have more money available to you than you usually do on Monday.
Focus on Credit
Having good credit does not necessarily mean you can buy whatever you want. However, with good credit, you can get a loan in an emergency without having to pay exorbitant interest. You can also capitalize on good opportunities that come your way.
To improve your credit, create a schedule that allows you to pay bills every ten days instead of once or twice a month to avoid late payments. Whenever possible, pay debts in full, especially credit cards, utilities, and banks that report to credit bureaus each month.
If you have a card that is close to maxed out, consider transferring the balance to a zero-interest card for a time. Be sure to put the maxed card away until you pay it off. Late payments and debt to available credit ratio will be very hard on your credit, so take care to pay on time and keep balances low.
Invest for Future Income
What can you buy now that will be worth more later, or pay you later? If you have heard nightmare stories from landlords, you may be nervous about investing in a building. However, you can retire with real estate without having to handle a hammer or a plunger. The ability to pool your money with other investors will greatly improve your returns as well.
If you do not yet own a home, consider buying a duplex instead of a house. With the right purchase, you can actually live in a house and rely on your neighbor to pay the mortgage. This is a rare and precious deal! Work with a realtor who specializes in investment properties and be ready to put down a decent down payment.
Finally, you may just need to make more money. Think of it as a short-term engagement. For one year, you will use your car for a rideshare side hustle and make money while others are spending theirs. For just one year, you will pick up freelance writing gigs, babysitting jobs, or mow yards in your neighborhood. In just one year, your financial status can change radically.