31 Days to Improve Your Financial Life

I want you to improve your financial life in 2013 and beyond. Therefore, over the next 31 days I’ll be sharing my best tips to help you improve your financial life. Each post will contain a short, actionable tip, followed by some related resources.

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While I can’t promise you’ll be rich or completely debt free by the end of the 31 days, I can assure you that if you take action on the 31 tips, your financial life will be much better off this year than last.

Let’s do this!

Improve Your Financial Life in 31 Days

Day 1: Save $1,000

Everyone should have at least an extra $1,000 saved up. Having at least a $1,000 cushion in your finances can do a lot for your feelings of security. It’s also evidence that you are capable of living within your means, and (possibly more importantly) holding on to your savings.

Do this today: Open up a separate savings account and have $100 automatically deposited into the account each paycheck (or each month). After just ten deposits, you’ll have that $1,000 saved and you didn’t even have to think about it beyond that one time you setup the automatic deposit. You’ll be less likely to touch the money because it’s in a separate place. Out of sight, out of mind.

If $100 is too much. Try $50 and do it for 20 periods. Either way, pick a number, separate, and automate. This is the most guaranteed way that I’ve found to saving $1,000.

Want to get to $1,000 quicker? Consider selling some things you don’t use anymore and stashing that money in the account. Or, you could ask friends, family, or neighbors if there are any odd jobs you could do for them to earn quick cash for the savings account.

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Last Edited: July 21, 2014 @ 11:19 pm
About Philip Taylor

Philip Taylor, aka "PT", is a husband and father of two. He created PT Money back in 2007 to share his thoughts on money and to meet others passionate about managing their finances. All the content on this blog is original, and created or edited by PT. Read more about Philip Taylor, and be sure to connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, or view the Philip Taylor+ Google profile.

Comments

  1. Happy new year, PT! I now use automatic transfers which help to reduce the cognitive load of saving — it’s automatic, and it feels good to see the balances continually increasing.

    • Philip Taylor says:

      @InvestItWisely Thanks, Kevin. Happy New Year to you as well.

      • NealFrankle says:

        @Philip Taylor@InvestItWisely

        I am a big believer in lists.

        1. make a list of all the action items that must be completed

        2. prioritize

        3. hit one by one.

        You have done a great service by making the list for us all. Well done sir!

  2. MyMoneyDesign.com says:

    PT – I couldn’t agree more that everyone should have at least an extra $1,000 saved up. Starting some type of automatic savings is a great way to start the new year.

  3. MyMoneyDesign.com says:

    PT – I couldn’t agree more that everyone should have at least an extra $1,000 saved up. Starting some type of automatic savings is a great way to start the new year.

  4. I’ve actually put together a nice little collection of items I can sell, and am getting close to that $1000! Looking forward to Day 3!

  5. Philip Taylor says:

    My bad. Note to self..check with local network first.

  6. @Elle_CM Thanks for sharing the 31 day series. :)

  7. @Elle_CM Thanks for sharing the 31 day series. :)

  8. @BoomerandEcho Thanks for sharing the 31 day series. :)

  9. @BoomerandEcho Thanks for sharing the 31 day series. :)

  10. I have my 403(b) set to auto adjust up 1% every April. That’s the month that raises in my company go in to effect, which are usually in the 2-3% range. This way, I never see the extra that goes in to retirement savings, so I don’t miss it. At the same time, I still get a little bit of a raise.

    • Philip Taylor says:

      Smart. If your company allows this then definitely take advantage. Technology for the win!

  11. Philip Taylor says:

    Sorry, man. Next time I’ll check with the local network.

  12. Philip Taylor says:

    Even better! You never spent it to begin with. Sounds like you are an efficient buyer.

  13. ReadyforZero says:

    This is great Phil, neat idea.

  14. ReadyforZero says:

    This is great Phil, neat idea.

  15. Thanks, ReadyforZero!

  16. Thanks, ReadyforZero!

  17. Kathryn C says:

    Hey there. Great reminder on checking your credit. And I lock my credit reports too, each of them with transunion, experien, and equifax. That way nobody can take out a new line of credit in your name. So much identity theft these days. The only annoying thing is I have to remember to unfreeze them when I’m making a big purchase because they can’t run my credit otherwise. Kind of a pain, but worth it to me.

    My credit card number was stolen the other day, someone charged all sorts of stuff but as I was dealing with it I was kind of like “oh well, my credit reports are frozen so they can’t steal my life.” Anyway, completely agree. So important to stay on top of this. It’s a life changer (one day)

  18. Kathryn C says:

    Hey there. Great reminder on checking your credit. And I lock my credit reports too, each of them with transunion, experien, and equifax. That way nobody can take out a new line of credit in your name. So much identity theft these days. The only annoying thing is I have to remember to unfreeze them when I’m making a big purchase because they can’t run my credit otherwise. Kind of a pain, but worth it to me.

    My credit card number was stolen the other day, someone charged all sorts of stuff but as I was dealing with it I was kind of like “oh well, my credit reports are frozen so they can’t steal my life.” Anyway, completely agree. So important to stay on top of this. It’s a life changer (one day)

  19. directbanc says:

    @ptmoney This series rocks! Thanks for the great resources too!

  20. I’m happy to say that I’ve done 3 of the 5 things, so now to get the other two done(sell extra stuff and review credit report). A great way to help save $1,000 is to save all your $1 dollar bills. Last year I did this and had $397 at the end of the year!

  21. Great series. 31 Days To Improved Finances. Lots of tips and resources.

  22. Still working on the extra $1000, but I’m glad to say I’m putting my Mint app to good use so far in 2012! I’ve targeted my leftover student loans first, but this was the first I’ve heard of ReadyforZero.. thanks for the recommendation!

  23. Great series. I especially like the check your credit reminder. I rotate between my 3 main reports at annualcreditreport, one every four months. This way, I’m getting a new report every 4 months instead of getting all 3 and waiting a year. I have a reminder in my calendar that let’s me know when it’s time and which one to get this time. saftmblog :)

    • Philip Taylor says:

      @SAFTMsaftmblog That’s a great tip for those who’ve check their report in the past without issues! Thanks for adding to the series.

  24. saftmblog says:

    @ptmoney Thanks!

  25. IAmDebtProject says:

    I’m excited that I am doing each and every one of these so far in 2012! One totally new thing I’m doing in January is tracking everything I spend, I always use a certain amount when it comes to food and gas, but I have no idea if I’m meeting that target every month. I read The Richest Man In Babylon last year as well as a few other books, and this month I am reading The Millionaire Next Door and I Will Teach You to be Rich!

  26. Trading_Trends says:

    Excellent post -

    I agree with you that if a personn has debt, the first thing that should be done is to build up an emergency fund..

    Be a saver and debt reducer at the same time..

  27. The emergency fund was the hardest thing in the world for me to start doing because I felt that it was awfully counterintuitive. And then, well, the first disaster hit, then the second and … well, it didn’t take long before I realized that it was one of the best things in the world.

  28. Great advice. My husband and I are taking Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace course, I’m really hoping that it will help us to get on the page regarding our finances.

  29. Philip, just got caught up on all 11 days haha. This is awesome stuff!

  30. I’m a SAHM, but I have a term policy on myself anyway. If I go early, I’d want money to be available for my husband to hire in-home childcare and also a regular maid service. And whatever else.

    Sort of a pain to get and it involved a medical exam and bloodwork, but whatever. The policy is complete.

    My husband has a private term policy and additional coverage through work.

  31. Mike Holman says:

    Thanks for the mention, Phil. Great series!

  32. Wow! What a great list of things to do! Great way to start of the New Year!

  33. Wow! What a great list of things to do! Great way to start of the New Year!

  34. Jeff Crews says:

    Expense trimming has begun! I have found that looking over my expenses for the previous day gives great insight on what I really could have gone without.

    • Philip Taylor says:

      Awesome, Jeff. I do this exercise once every six months or so and I always find something new I can cut.

  35. FTBFinance says:

    @ptmoney enjoyed the post. Looked at your Top Savings account post too. What are your thoughts on our comparison: http://t.co/6MyRbxCW

  36. I definitely concur on having a list for grocery shopping. We plan a weeks’ worth of meals out ahead, assess what we need, then make a list that applies only to that meal plan. Has saved us a lot of money.

  37. Credit Solutions says:

    Nice tips to be followed on 31 days! It will surely help to increase my monthly financial gain.

  38. Credit Solutions says:

    It will surely help to increase my monthly financial gain!

  39. AverageJoeMoney says:

    I’m a Roth IRA fan. When people ask me which is better, a Roth IRA or the 401k, I question the premise….they’re usually better together! Because 401k funds exit completely taxable and Roth funds tax free, having both lets you work around tax bracket considerations during retirement.

  40. debtblackhole says:

    I’m sad to say it took a major medical scare (my colon exploded/ruptured) for us to get serious about doing our wills & estate planning. We worked with Taylor Willingham, an attorney in North Texas, who specializes in the “walk-in will” (that’s actually his website- http://www.walkinwill.com). He made the whole process extremely simple.

    A basic will costs $199, plus you can add other estate planning documents if you want them. Or you can do what we did & get the entire Estate Plan package for both of us (around $600-$700). Well worth the investment to make sure our kids are taken care of and there are no questions about our wishes for our estate.

  41. I really liked the most recent article on cutting out the junk mail. I don’t know how much time I’ve spent over the years going through and opening and shredding credit card applications. I’ve even tried removing my name from the pre-screened offers. It really gets to be a bear.

  42. @MoneyUnder30 thanks, man.

  43. JeffreyCrews says:

    Step #25 is right down my alley. One way that you can save money on car insurance is by taking the time to compare companies. Everyone wants your business, so you should be able to get some of the better prices.

  44. seanhopcraft says:

    Day 26 is a very important part of any financial strategy. Giving is not just giving something away to someone else but also you receive a sense of freedom for being controlled by your finances. JefferyCrews, I’ll be honest, I don’t know very much about car insurance companies, so maybe you could throw me a bone…What’s a good site that you use for comparison? Thanks.

  45. Go_Courtnay says:

    @ptmoney Awesome post!!

  46. Great post! I like the Day 13 which is Trim Your Expenses. I have a bad habit that I always spend my money on my wants not my needs. I will try to interchange them and see what I can save. Thank you for the tips, these tips will really help great number of people.

  47. Great post! I like the Day 13 which is Trim Your Expenses. I have a bad habit that I always spend my money on my wants not my needs. I will try to interchange them and see what I can save. Thank you for the tips, these tips will really help great number of people. If you are a paper check user and wanted to save more please do visit http://www.cheapcheckstore.com.

  48. Thanks a lot! Very actual theme for me. As addition recommend to read the article “Development of personal resources” – http://manprogress.com/en/methods/personal-resources.html

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  54. Right now I’m feeling fairly financially secure, though all that could change in an instant. Ive got good skills and I network well, and I’m really working to pay off debt – so that I can make it through for longer than I would have been able to with the debt in the even of a catastrophe. I think that once I get married H and I will both feel pretty financially secure and can really start to focus on some long term goals.