Many people see January 1st as clean slate—an opportunity to start over. Everyone wants to make positive changes this time of year and it’s not surprising that financial goals are some of the most popular New Year’s Resolutions. It’s easy to see why. More money can help you meet your bigger life goals and improve all area of your life. It’s a powerful force that you can use to your benefit in tangible and intangible ways.
Getting to the point where you make money work for you instead of working for money might involve saving it, paying off debts or obligations that accrue interest, and knowing when to spend more instead of less. It does take time to sort out what’s a money saver versus a waster, but if greater wealth and the security it brings are your goals for the new year, it’s time well spent.
But where do you start? Here are some attainable financial goals that will give you most bang for your buck (and for your time, too!).
Pay off your credit card debt, especially those with high interest rates. While it may be painful to defer other discretionary purchases, look at paying off the balances as an investment or a savings account.
The annual percentage rate (APR) on credit cards is likely to be higher than any other kind of loan you’ll carry. Before you purchase something using a credit card, ask yourself if you’d buy it if it were priced 20 to 30 percent higher. By the time you pay it off, it could cost you that much, or even more.
It’s all too easy to grab fast food and drinks to go, but those expenditures add up quickly in wasted money. Instead, invest in a good thermos or insulated travel cups, and make your own beverages.
If you opt for fast food with any frequency, it’s probably costing you more than money since most of it offers little by way of nutrition, but plenty by way of salt and bad fats. Instead, set aside some kitchen time to make your own healthier lunches and snacks and save money at the same time.
Sometimes it’s true that you get what you pay for, and knowing when to buy a high-quality product can save you money over the longer term. Buying generic food at grocery stores saves money and often the quality is equal to or better than the name brand product. Designer label clothing usually has a high markup, and if you’re a persistent shopper, you might be able to find a similar style from a lesser-known manufacturer at much lower prices.
Thrift and consignment stores pack plenty of good buys under their roofs, and as long you clean or wash the items before using them, are a sure way to save big money over retail stores, especially for children’s clothing. Look for factory outlet stores for rock-bottom prices on new products, and the deals can be exceptionally attractive when they’re having sales.
If you’re in a financial position where you can invest, consider holding rental real estate as a way to increase your cash flow while building your net worth. Unlike the stock market or financial funds, buying and holding rental real estate provides a positive income stream over the life of the investment, and grows in value at the same time. Even though it requires an upfront investment, the positive monthly cash flow will defray it.
See also Investment Tips for Beginners
Making conscious decisions about spending money to make it work for you will help you reach greater prosperity. Sorting through the choices you have and determining which work best for you does take some effort, but in the long run, the payoff will reward you with financial freedom.
Talk to one of our investment specialists to learn how JWB can help you earn passive income through long term real estate investing.