What do you dream about? The perfect house? Filling your tiny closet with a massive wardrobe of designer goods? No matter what you're working towards, there are five things you can sit down and start right now to whip your finances into shape and get you on your way to achieving your dreamiest of dream goals.
1. Watch Your Account Daily
I see you rolling your eyes through the screen. "Daily?!" Yes, daily. If you can find time to check Facebook and Instagram, you surely have 5 minutes in each day you can take to log in to online banking and check over your accounts. (If it helps, commit your banking app to the front page of your phone.) Look for your day's transactions, note the remaining balance and take action if anything looks amiss.
2. Make a Plan to Pay Down Debt
There are two equally great methods for paying down credit card debt. One, the snowball method, suggests throwing money at your smallest balances first. Once you knock out your smallest payment, snowball the money you were paying each month to pay down the next smallest card until they're all gone. The other method is to make big payments on your card with the highest interest rate, paying just the minimum amount on the rest.
3. Automate Your Savings
My bank offers a program where $1 is transferred from my checking account to my savings account with every debit card purchase. Since I use my debit card for literally everything, I end up putting away a lot into savings without even noticing. (It's like a sales tax I charge myself!) If you can't enroll in a program through your bank, consider Digit, which uses an algorithm to transfer small, unnoticeable amounts (pennies up to several dollars) away from your checking account each day into a Digit savings account you can withdraw anytime.
4. Review Your Recurring Expenses
So it turns out maybe you can't live without Netflix, but you can ditch Spotify. The point is, subscriptions and scheduled charges mean you're spending money monthly (or more or less often) without even thinking about it. As a one-time task, sit down and review your recurring expenses and think about whether you get value out of the cash you're spending. Plan to do it again in a year to stay on top of your budget.
5. Keep Your Goals Top of Mind
Whether your money goals include a house, a trip or even just a pair of new boots, use them to keep your budgeting on track day-to-day. Pin a photo of Paris above your desk to curb your lunch hour spending, or tape a pic of your dream home inside your wallet so you spot it every time you reach for the credit card.
What strategies do you use to budget for your goals?