7 Simple Ways to Improve Your Personal Finances

I love personal finance! Check out these tips and send me a message on Instagram @honorandequity and let me know what you think! 

Disclaimer: This article does not constitute legal or financial advice, so you should consult professionals before making any important decisions. 

Don’t Keep Lots of Cash on Hand

Maybe you’re already a great saver! You track your expenses, you have a budget, and you live below your means. However, if you’re keeping all of your money in a checking or savings account, you are losing money! This is because of inflation: the gradual increase in price of good and services and corresponding decrease in the value of money. $1 today is worth more than that same dollar 5 years from now! So don’t keep your money in your checking account – put it somewhere that money will compound for you like a retirement account, money market account, or lend it to real estate investors. 

Use Personal Capital for Budgeting, Tracking Net Worth, Tracking Expenses

You’re probably on your phone too much already, so you might as well use your phone to increase your awareness of what your money is doing. I prefer the app Personal Capital, but there are many other options like Mint and YNAB (You Need A Budget). If you are going to be in control of your personal finances, you need to know where your money is going and how much you have! It might take an hour or so to connect all your accounts to Personal Capital, but I promise it will be worth it. Sync all your accounts and view your financial world in one app. Set short-term goals for your monthly expenses, long-term goals for your net worth and use Personal Capital to track it all. 

Review your TSP – Don’t Use the G Fund!

If you make automatic contributions to your TSP (Thrift Savings Plan – the low cost retirement account plan for federal employees) then I think you’re awesome and you’re way ahead of most Americans. However, up until a few years ago, when you started a TSP account the default fund was the G fund. This is a very low risk, low reward fund made up of non-marketable U.S. Treasury securities guaranteed by the government. This is a great fund for people in retirement age who just want to preserve the money they have, but unless that describes you, you should put the money into a different fund! Which fund to use is a whole other discussion, but you can’t go wrong with the Lifecycle funds which target a future retirement year based on your age and automatically adjust the allocation as the years go by. Bottom line: if you’re under the age of 60, your money shouldn’t be in the G fund. 

Refinance Loans while Rates are Low

As I’m writing this in October of 2020, interest rates are the lowest they have ever been. Lots of people are refinancing their home mortgages to lock in the lower rates, and if you haven’t done so you should look into it immediately! Personally, I think rates will stay low for at least the next year or so while the Federal Reserve tries to keep the economy propped up, but you never know what the future holds. 

You should also look into refinancing any other substantial loans like auto loans or student loans. It may not be a good idea to refinance those depending on your specific situation, but its worth looking in to. For example, if you are doing the the Federal Student Loan Forgiveness Program (working in the Federal government for 10 years so the government pays off your loan) you likely don’t want to refinance out of that federal loan. Consult with a professional before doing any refinancing! 

Don’t Play the Stock Market!

I am not a big fan of purchasing individual stock, because there are just so many variables and and if you are not a student of that company and how it operates, you probably don’t know enough to throw money at it. Professionals like Warren Buffett invest hundreds of millions into individual companies, but they also have teams of people poring over data such that they know everything there is to know about the company. Many people purchase stock in companies based on emotions or 1-2 nuggets of information the read about the company in a Forbes article – that is not enough information to make a truly informed investment decision! 

In my opinion, it’s a much smarter long-term play to invest in an index fund that owns shares of many different companies. It’s not sexy investing, but you’re statistically more likely to make money in the long-term as opposed to investing in single companies. 

Make Sure Your Daily Purchases Align With Your Long-Term Goals

This one is huge! So many people make impulsive decisions with their daily purchases. These purchases can add up and over time prevent you from accumulating wealth. Sit down (with your spouse if married) and think about your long-term goals, then decide on a budget that fits those goals. Stick to it! You should absolutely allocate some fun or discretionary money into the budget, but your spending should be intentional. No more impulsive Amazon or Target shopping! You know who you are! 

Get a Will!

If you don’t have a will, talk to an estate planning attorney ASAP! Even people that are good with money frequently fall short with their estate planning. People don’t like talking or thinking about death, so they just ignore it for years until it becomes a huge pain for their surviving family members. If you’re in the military, you can go to your base legal assistance office and get a will for free! You need to designate who will get your X-Box and rights to your TikTok account, otherwise who knows what will happen to it! Seriously though, even if you’re in your 20s, you should get a will to save your family the time it will take them to sort through all your property and financial accounts. 

Check out @honorandequity on Instagram and Facebook! I love connecting with people and chatting about personal finance and real estate so please reach out!

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