(TNS)–Starting on the path to financial health can be overwhelming. But as you start paying attention to your money management techniques, you’ll notice it’s not the big things as much as it is your small, daily decisions that truly impact your finances — for better or worse. In just an hour or two, you can complete a small task to make a big improvement in your financial situation.
Do What You’ve Been Doing
Emotions often win out in the struggle to wisely manage money, and experiencing negative feelings like shame and fear can make avoiding the financial tasks hanging over your head seem like a better option than facing them head on. Don’t give in to these emotions. Be proactive. The only thing that will actually make financial problems better is facing and fixing them.
If you have a financial task that you’ve been dreading and avoiding, like calling a collections agency that you owe, or setting up a payment plan for back taxes, now’s the time to take care of it. Doing so will give you peace of mind and relief. But most importantly, it will give you the chance to directly address and handle any issues before they end up costing you even more money and stress.
Purge Recurring Expenses
If you’re paying for subscriptions to magazines you never read or pay more for your cable bill than you do for car insurance, it’s time to purge your recurring expenses. Spend about an hour reviewing recent expenses, keeping an eye out for monthly charges like cable bills and subscription fees as well as services you could do yourself, like housecleaning. Look for services you don’t use much or could live without and cancel them.
For services you need, contact your service provider and ask if there are any current offers, promotions or discounts that you could take advantage of to secure a lower rate. Or, you could try and get an upgrade at the same price you’re currently paying. If you can’t get a deal from your current service provider, shop the competition to see if other companies are willing to offer a discount to give you a reason to switch over. The best part about cutting or lowering monthly expenses is that it’s a one-time effort that will help you save money long term.
Contest a Fee
If you’ve been slapped with a bank fee or other fee you don’t think is justified, speak up. Call your service provider and politely ask that the fee be waived. If it was charged in error, ask the company to correct the error. You might even be given a small discount as a consolation.
If the fee was legitimately levied, you can still request that the service provider waive the fee or lower it. If the fee is from your bank, for instance, maybe a bill payment went out a day before your paycheck was deposited, resulting in an overdraft. Make sure to mention how excellent of a customer you usually are and how important this request is to you. Chances are good that retaining your business is worth waiving a $30 fee to your service provider.
Go On a 24-Hour Spending Fast
If you don’t think you have the extra funds to cover an additional loan payment or to save more money, try going on a 24-hour spending fast, making it your goal not to buy anything or spend any money that day. It might take some planning to arrange your day so you won’t need to spend money. Pack a lunch with what’s in your fridge, ask a coworker for a ride to work or stick with free water at the after-work happy hour.
Refraining from spending can make you aware of the triggers that prompt you to pull out your wallet, like driving past a coffee shop or getting invited out for lunch. By not spending, you can get a clearer picture of which expenses you truly need and which ones are simply bad habits you have formed.
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