For many people, the notion of financial health holds a lot of weight. It might even feel like a heavy, daunting object that's impossible to shift. You might even feel held hostage or trapped by the concept. But like physical and mental health, developing financial wellness isn't something you just pick right up—it's a culmination of many simple actions over time.|
If you're ready to take the reins on your finances, start with these easy expert-approved tips. By tackling small yet significant money-related habits, you can get the financial ball rolling onto your court.
1. Plan your meals
"Planning meals—and shopping accordingly—can make your grocery shopping as financially efficient as possible," says Matt Frankel, C.F.P., a personal finance expert at The Ascent. Plus, when you only buy food you're going to eat, you can stop tossing money in the form of food waste.
Better yet, look at weekly flyers and plan meals based on sales. "Eating produce in season is [both] healthy and budget-friendly," adds Stephanie Barnier, C.F.P., founder of Clear Sky Wealth. She also recommends skipping pre-cut fruits and vegetables, which often cost nearly three times as much.
2. Cancel unused subscriptions
Stopping unused subscriptions is a quick way to boost your monthly finances. "It can be easy to forget about [subscriptions] that are eating up your money each month," says Logan Allec, C.P.A., founder of Money Done Right. In fact, according to a 2018 report by West Monroe Partners, 84 percent of Americans are unaware of how much they spend on monthly subscriptions.
Take a tip from Frankel and print out recent bank and credit card statements. Find and cancel recurring subscriptions you could do without, like that forgotten music streaming service or smartphone app. Repeat every few months or once a year to keep tabs on unused subscriptions.
3. Turn on automatic payments
When it comes to financial fitness, automatic payments are an indispensable tool for handling bills. Not only do they prevent late fees (i.e. unnecessary spending), but they also improve your financial reputation by ensuring timely payments. "[This] proves you're a responsible borrower to lenders," Allec explains.
"We all have better ways to spend our time than paying bills," adds Barnier. "[For credit cards and loans,] make the payments a few days before the due date and you'll see your credit score grow."
4. Make a simple budget
A budget is essential for spending and saving with intention. It gives every dollar a purpose, which improves your chances of achieving specific financial goals.
Now, this doesn't mean you need to dive into a sea of spreadsheets. A simple spending plan is an excellent way to dip your toes into budgeting. This can be as basic as determining your planned expenses and pin-pointing how much you need to save each week to hit certain targets.
5. Delete saved payment methods online
Mintel, a market intelligence agency, reports that 69 percent of American adults shop online each month. The average order is $114, and 48 percent of shoppers occasionally order more just to get free shipping. Sound familiar? To combat this pattern of mindless marathon shopping, remove your saved payment methods on retail websites, advises Allec.
"An online merchant's one-click buying method makes it a lot easier to overspend," he says. But by deleting your payment details, you can add a buffer between you and that purchase. The next time you go to place an order, simply physically reinserting the payment can offer a moment of deliberation.
Financial wellness doesn't need to start with big-time money decisions. With these tiny yet significant moves, you can begin priming that financial muscle. While you're at it, be kind to yourself and welcome the process. Celebrate small victories, learn from mistakes and remember that the journey to financial health looks different for everyone.