Improving Our Finances

by Kristina Tahnyak on February 22, 2011 · 3 comments

US News recently published an article titled “50 Ways to Improve Your Finances in 2011”. It discusses 50 different ways to help us save, spend less, and earn more in the New Year.  Maybe our finances are not so great and they need to be improved, or maybe our finances are already good and we just want to make them great.  Whatever the reason, we all want to improve our finances, because we can never have enough money.

I like this article because it is not just another top 10 how to article.  It actually lists 50 different ways the help us individually improve our personal finances. The tips are broken down into categories such as Goal Setting, Spending, Security, Saving, Investing, Debt, Retirement, Earning, and Giving.

Categorizing our financial priorities is a great idea because it lets us have a clear picture of our financial goals.  If we have different goals in different categories we can work towards more than one goal at a time.  I don’t think that we should be working towards two savings goals at one particular time, but we can be working towards one saving and one investing goal at the same time.

What are your personal goals to improve your finances?

Goal Setting: Do a little every day. I honestly believe in this rule; but it is the one financial rule where I should advise people to do as I say, and not as I do.  However, I am trying to change my financial habits in 2011.  In the past I liked paying off a large bill at one time and knowing it’s done, I liked putting lump sums of money into my investment accounts, and I liked buying big ticket items without saving up for them.  However, in 2011 I have started taking baby steps to paying off bills, saving for retirement, and saving up to buy big items.

Spending: Stop receiving E-mail sales alerts from your favourite sellers.  Check! Done! I stopped this old habit by deleting an old email address where I received daily sales updates from several retailers.  I avoid temptation by being ignorant to current sales and promotions.

Security: Protect your privacy.  I am extremely paranoid about identity theft.  I had my wallet stolen once and I have never felt so violated in my life. Now I keep all documents locked up and all credit cards at home. I have my monthly bills delivered electronically to avoid any chance of my personal information falling into the wrong hands. With all of these online transactions happening it can also be safer to do banking with your checking account online vs going into a bank. With online banking you are able to more easily protect your privacy and easily manage your accounts.

Saving: Become a better cook. I have to laugh at this because every year for the past four years my new year’s resolution has been to learn to cook; and every year I fail!  I have bought cook books and subscribed to websites, but nothing seems to work.  I suck at cooking and the worst part about cooking is that it is a lot of work.  Cooking then cleaning up…it’s just so much faster to throw a takeout container in the garbage.  By the time I have tried a recipe for the 3rd time in the same night I am so hungry that I just end up going out to get something to eat.  Now I just avoid the middle man…so to speak.

Investing: Ignore the Market.  I can’t stress this enough. Focus on the long term and avoid the daily news as it reflects your individual investment portfolio.  If the market movement has already hit the news, then the odds are that it’s too late to impact your individual investment portfolio.

Debt: Pay off your expensive debts.  This is a great financial planning strategy.  If we have debts, it is best to pay off the one with the highest interest first. Carrying a balance on our credit cards and other debts can cost us a lot of money in interest fees.  Debt can also be very stressful and cause problems in our relationships, friendships, and families. I don’t agree with paying off student loans in a hurry because in Canada interest paid on student loans is tax deductible.

Other categories from this article include Retirement, Earning, and Giving. To view the full US News article please click here.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Wade February 22, 2011 at 11:31 am

Haha, I like the become a better cook section. I have tried to do the same, maybe you should try the “America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook.” They explain everything very well and they have quite a few simple recipes and then a couple of ways to embelish them. It is by far the simplest cookbook I own. Hopefully that helps in the savings category.

2 Kalen February 22, 2011 at 11:14 pm

Thanks Kristina! I am working on being a better cook, that should save me money soon as well. I guess we are the kind of people it doesn’t come naturally to, but you’re right it’s a good skill to learn both for financial and practical reasons.

3 Kristina February 27, 2011 at 12:20 am

Thanks Wade. I’ll pick up that book. I don’t know if I am just lazy, busy, or culinary creatively challenged. However I seriously need to learn to cook. Last year I spent almost $5000 on eating out.

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