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Smart moves when money is tighter than time

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A lot of people have more time than money these days. If you are one – maybe you take a vacation or have freed up commuting hours working from home – make the most of that extra time by making smart financial moves that won’t cost a dime.

“If you’ve got the time but no money, it’s time to become the best version of yourself,” says Ryan J. Marshall, financial advisor in Wyckoff, New Jersey. “What separates successful people from people who are struggling financially is often the way they spend the time they are given each day.”

From the quick and easy to the more involved, here are ideas for creating your personalized to-do list when you have more hours available than money.

Define aims

This is the mandatory recommendation for developing a family budget, perhaps using the 50/30/20 method to allocate needs, wants and savings or debt repayment. But creating a budget should be about liberation, not deprivation – finding money to spend on the things you care about and ruthlessly cutting back on the things you don’t care about.

– More free money movements: calculate your current net worth (everything you own minus everything you owe); calculate an amount of nest egg for retirement.

Evaluate expenses

Recurring spending is the black hole of regrettable spending. Examine your credit and debit card statements to identify subscriptions and re-substantiate them. When a recurring expense does the trick, try to get a better price – we look at your cable, internet and cell phone bills.

A big potential gain? Compare auto insurance premiums yourself or with help. “It can be a pretty straightforward process, just transferring your current insurance to a broker and having them shop for it with multiple carriers,” says Autumn K. Campbell, certified financial planner in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Some brokers only work on commission and do not charge a fee.

– More free money movements: Plan a “quick spend” (no spending for several days); learn more about online shopping portals with cash back; decide on a child allowance (you don’t have to start until you have the money).

Plan debt payment

Develop a debt repayment plan. Two popular strategies: paying extra for the debt with the highest interest rate (debt avalanche) or paying extra for smaller debts to clear them quickly and have a sense of accomplishment (snowball of debt). debt).

– No more free money movements: refinance your mortgage; refinance your student loan; transfer debt at a lower rate.

Deepen the intelligence of money

Knowledge of money is the gift that brings out benefits throughout your life.

Online financial advice is plentiful, but don’t forget digital home access at your little-known public library. Beginners can consult the book “Personal Finance for Dummies”. Or you can check out Consumer Reports to get better products for the money you spend.

And while not everyone likes investing topics, you need to have a basic understanding. “There are countless wonderful free resources such as Morningstar’s Free Investment Class and Vanguard’s Free Articles hosted on their website,” says Avani Ramnani, Financial Advisor in New York City.

– More Free Money Moves: Spend an hour every Sunday night researching an unknown money topic.

Monitor credit

Your creditworthiness is important to your financial life, well beyond eligibility for a new loan. People with better credit live easier and cheaper. At a minimum, educate yourself on the main factors that affect your credit: payment history, credit usage, length of credit history, and credit composition.

– No more free money movements: check your credit reports at AnnualCreditReport.com; check your credit scores (numbers that summarize your credit reports, available in several places online); trigger a credit freeze if you are concerned about credit identity theft.

Reconsider housing and cars

Where you live and what you drive guides your financial life more than most financial decisions. Think critically about how your mortgage or rent, as well as the cost of your vehicles, matches your financial life.

New cars lose value as if they are coming off a cliff, while used cars can be bargains. That’s why you can buy a 2014 Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan for the same price as a new Kia Forte. If your mortgage or rent is more than 28% of your gross monthly income, it’s time to ask the tough questions about where you choose to live.

– No more free money movements: renegotiate the rent; create a next-car account and plan to fund it; consider relocating / downsizing.

Automate everything

After making a good financial decision, put it on autopilot. This way you won’t forget to put money aside or pay bills. And ultimately, you will have more time and money.

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Gregory Karp is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @spendingsmart