Six Steps to a Happier and More Stable Financial Situation

Six Steps to a Happier and More Stable Financial SituationSimilar to achieving any goal, creating a stable financial situation requires that you make a plan, and then follow through on it. In theory, it’s easy. But as we all know, following through on your decisions can be difficult. Because of that, we’re going to provide you with six easy-to-follow steps that anyone can follow to achieve a happier and more secure financial foundation in their life.

Step 1: Stop Impulse Buying

The biggest reason why some people are always broke is because they constantly indulge in impulse buys that don’t contribute to their financial goals. Whether it be dining out or making online purchases, we’re all guilty of it. But if you can recognize the severity of this problem, you’ll be in a better position to change it. So stop the spending and only focus on what you need.

Step 2: Track All Expenses

How can you possibly develop a solid financial foundation if you don’t even know where all your money is going? By knowing what your spending habits are like, you can then see where there’s some room to save money.

If you’ve never tracked your expenses before, consider participating in the following challenge: track every expense (even tiny ones) for the next 30 days. Mark them down in an Excel spreadsheet. It doesn’t need to be pretty, just practical. Then, after the 30 days are over, cross out what you don’t need and circle what you overspent on. Now you can successfully cut down on the following month’s expenses!

Step 3: Invest in the Future

If you’re in your 20s, you probably don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the distant future. But you should. There’s no better time than now to start planning for retirement. For example, if you start a 401(k) in your 20s, and contribute to it regularly, then you’ll have a hefty safety net in 30 years. Invest money in stocks, bonds, and mutual funds too. If you’re unfamiliar with how these investment options work, then partake in some self-education (it will go a long way towards helping your financial future).

Step 4: Pay Off Current Debt (and Avoid Future Debt)

If you had to choose only one thing to apply from this article, it should definitely be this tip. Paying off current debt, and staying out of future debt, is the best way to better your financial situation. Avoid taking out too many loans or applying for too many credit cards. If you’ve got school debt, focus on paying that off as quickly as possible. The less money you owe, the more you’ll be able to save each and every month. Even if you can only afford to pay $100 a month towards your debt, that’s still a significant amount after three years (12 months x $100 = $3,600).

Step 5: Use the “Envelope System”

This simple, yet, highly effective system can make all the difference in your finances. Here’s how it works: let’s pretend that you have three different expenses that you have to pay each day (gas, lunch, and dinner). Withdraw the exact amount of money that you plan on spending for each one, and place them in separate envelopes (one envelope per expense). Now you’ll be less likely to overspend, and if you do, then you know that you’re probably spending too much in these areas.

Step 6: Pay Bills Right Away

Don’t wait to pay your bills. Sign up for automatic payments and pay them immediately. The biggest benefit to this is that you won’t forget to pay a bill, which can result in late fees. Secondly, you won’t be able to accidentally spend bill money since it’s taken out of your bank account automatically.

Building a more secure financial situation isn’t going to happen overnight. You need to be patient and disciplined. If you follow the six steps above, there’s no reason why you can’t be living comfortably within two or three years.

3 Ways We Lose Money Without Even Realizing It

Money is hard to keep track of; everybody knows that. It’s why you’re ready a personal finance blog right now, and why you (probably) haven’t been 100% faithful to your budget this month. This is an inherent characteristic of money. In the rush and tussle of life, you’ve got a million distractions. Money is only one of them, so it’s no surprise that you should pay attention to other things from time to time. But there are a bunch of people out there who make their living by ensuring that your money is as difficult to manage as possible. These individuals and entities may be draining you of your hard earned wages without you even knowing about it. Since this is so often the case, it’s worth taking a look at your finances right away, to make sure you don’t have any of these clingers-on sucking you dry. Here are three of the most common scenarios.

  • A Forgotten Credit Account. For people with 5 or more credit cards, this can be a very unfortunate situation. Credit card companies have a variety of ways they contact you: phone, mail, email. But if one of the those methods changes, it’s entirely possible that you might not be getting notifications about outstanding balances and the like. This is made all the more likely when you move or change your phone number/email address. Thousands of people have set certain bills to auto-draft, or do not have all credit accounts visible on their online banking service. Left untended, credit card statements will swell, and credit scores will plummet. If you have a history of setting up a lot of credit cards, make sure that you’re not carrying balances on a credit card that you no longer use or may have forgotten about.
  • PPI. Relevant mostly for our British readers, this situation is one which all consumers should be aware of. Payment Protection Insurance was tacked on to many a financial contract in recent years over in England. Thousands of consumers found themselves paying monthly dues for a service they did not want. Because the language was found to be deceptive and hidden within dense forms, there have been a variety of class action lawsuits written up to help these people get their money back. If you have PPI, this PPI Claims Calculator can show you how much you stand to make back.
  • Subscriptions. With so many goods and services available by subscription online these days, it’s easy to forget how many you have open. Because these services tend to auto-draft in perpetuity, you may very well be paying for services you no longer want or use. So take a scan of your billing statements, as well as the spam folder on your email, and you’ll probably find one or two you could do without, even if they weren’t entirely forgotten.

There are plenty of ways to save money. But start investing in awareness of these methods that companies use to get your money when your attention is on other things. It’ll save you loads over the years.

Side Business and New Investment Opportunities

Side Business and New Investment OpportunitiesMany state and local governments revised their laws in the aftermath of the recession to encourage new businesses. The reasons are clear.

Additionally, technological and cultural changes result in new opportunities. Consider the following side/main businesses:

Home Baking

If you make a fantastic specialty bread or muffin, you are in luck. Many states revised their cottage food laws, and now people can sell goods baked in their own kitchens through a variety of venues. California’s new law began in 2013, and home bakers can sell directly to consumers through farmer’s markets, roadside stands, and even online. Bakers there can even apply for a “Class B” license and sell their goods to indirect sellers such as restaurants.

Cottage food laws come with several restrictions. Selling foods that have meat or dairy are pretty much prohibited. Some states cap what you can earn from a cottage food operation. In California, cottage food operations could have annual gross sales of $45,000 in 2014 before the operator had to rent commercial kitchen space.


Did your friends turn to you for help with English and Math classes? Are you a teacher looking to make extra money? You should consider tutoring.

Tutoring is big business in America with revenues of $4 billion annually. Parents want to address academic concerns. In response, some areas deregulated zoning laws to allow individuals to tutor more than one person at a time. These changes permit people to tutor a group of three students as opposed to just one student at a time. Skype allows someone to tutor students from the comfort of his or her home.


Marijuana for recreational use is legal in 4 states. Marijuana legalization is on the ballot in Nevada in 2016, and advocates hope to have ballot initiatives in states such as California and Massachusetts for that election. With these changes, you might wonder if investing in a marijuana business is for you.

Marijuana is still illegal at the federal level. There is a risk that a new administration will crack down on marijuana businesses. You also have to be conscientious of how state laws are written. In Florida, only 21 of the 7,001 nurseries in the state are eligible for licenses to grow medical marijuana.

Factors to Consider

Make sure to check that you have the appropriate permits and insurance if you start a home-based business. Talk to a lawyer so you have a legal structure (i.e. sole proprietorship, LLC) that is right for you. Examine investments carefully to avoid fraud and limit difficulties.

Media discussions about regulations frequently concern federal agencies such as the EPA. However, state and local laws often have a strong impact on business opportunities. As a citizen, make sure you hold politicians pass regulations based on public health and safety, not fear and favoritism.

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