Nearly two-thirds of Americans don’t have a household budget, according to a recent poll by Gallup. But getting your finances in order may be a lost cause if you don’t know what you’re earning and what you’re spending. One of the easiest ways to organize your finances is to leverage useful tools, eliminate unnecessary expenses and find innovative ways to earn money. Here are a few ways to get started on your journey to financial stability:
Use a Budgeting App
It’s no longer necessary to diligently balance your checkbook with pen and paper or to monitor your online banking as you go. Instead, set up your financial accounts, create a budget and keep track of your spending threshold with an app like Mint. This lets you see exactly how much you’re spending a month on areas like entertainment or credit card debt so you can figure out where you can cut back and what can be increased. Mint also allows you to set financial goals to give you an idea of how you’re doing and how fast you’ll get there.
Get a Side Gig
Depending on your situation, it may be easier to make more money than to cut back. A side gig doesn’t have to be a brand new career, but can be as easy as tackling odd jobs as time permits. Landscaping, tutoring, cooking, errand running, bookkeeping and teaching a skill like guitar can all bring in extra income each month. Tap into sites like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk or Fiverr to take short gigs. Even though they don’t pay a lot, they money can add up over time. Many of these tasks are as simple as doing a little editing or fact checking and can be done in ten or twenty minutes at the end of a long day at work.
Switch to Prepaid Smartphones
You can still enjoy texting, online surfing and making crystal clear calls without the need for an expensive data plan and smartphone service. Many major players such as Virgin Mobile and T-Mobile offer prepaid services to help you stick to your budget and figure out how to better allocate your finances. T-Mobile even offers to pay off your phone and buy out your contract if you want to pick up the latest phone, such as the Samsung Galaxy S 6. This way you don’t have to break your budget to stay current.
Sell Your Junk
Selling your junk can put money in your pocket and eliminate clutter and maintenance and upkeep expenses. Sell your old bookcase and chairs on Craigslist and get rid of gently-used clothes and broken electronics on eBay. Savvy shoppers are happy to have the discount, fix broken items and come away with a steal. Use the money to pay down debt or to build up an emergency fund. Use high-quality photos and catchy, descriptive headlines to stand out. Offer impeccable customer service like quick shipping and easy communication.
Downgrade Unnecessary Services
It’s easy to take pricey services like cable, Internet and even banking fees for granted. It’s entirely possible to slash your bill in half, if not more, just by re-evaluating your services. Consider dumping your cable TV and relying on the Internet to watch free shows. Get rid of your big name bank and shop around for a credit union instead. Many require a one-time sign-up fee as low as $5 and offer lower rates on car and home loans.
*These tips have been compensated and contributed by an outside writer.*