50 ways to improve your finances in 2015 – Pt 1

~Here are 1-10 hope these tips find you well~

From USNews 12/11/14

The new year is the perfect time to hit “refresh” on your finances. Whether you need to update your insurance, revamp your budget or scale back some shopping habits, take some time to consider these 50 action steps. They can help you improve your finances over the next 12 months.

1. Decide on financial goals.

For some people, there’s nothing more appealing than saving for a three-bedroom house with a white picket fence. Others dream of taking a trip around the world or a sabbatical from work. Choosing your money goals makes it easier to work toward them.

2. Create a spending plan.

Most people spend about two-thirds of their income on three essentials: food, housing and transportation. Then there are debt payments, savings, household costs and optional items such as entertainment to consider. Create an annual budget by allocating spending goals for each category.

3. Resist retailers’ enticements.

Stores are in the business of getting us to spend money, but if we know their tricks, we can better resist the temptation. Rewards cards, enticing smells (like cinnamon around the holidays) and short-term flash sales are a few of the techniques retailers use; being aware of them can make it easier to just say “no.”

4. Track your spending.

Keeping track of every expenditure over a two-week period can offer insight into unnecessary wastes, from restaurant meals to cab rides. You can use a pen and pencil or take advantage of free online tools, such as Mint.com or those offered by your financial institution.

5. Don’t accept posted prices.

Prices are often a lot more negotiable than you think, even in big-box department stores. If you’ve seen a lower price listed elsewhere, don’t hesitate to ask the store clerk if they can match it. The worst-case scenario is they’ll say “no.”

6. Research products online before visiting stores.

Product review sites, coupon code sites and online discount warehouses often provide information and insight into how (and where) to find the best deals. With the proliferation of free shipping codes, the lowest price is often online.

7. Earn money from more than one source.

The lack of job security in today’s market means anyone could lose their job or face a salary cut. To create a second source of income, consider turning to one of the fast-growing online marketplaces, such as Fiverr or Etsy, for ideas on how to earn more money.

8. Launch your own business.

The recession inspired many Americans to explore entrepreneurship, partly as a way to take back control of their financial lives. Even relatively small businesses, such as a blog that earns money through advertisements or a garden that produces marketable flowers, can turn into a source of financial security.

9. Negotiate your salary.

While many workers feel lucky to simply have a job, sometimes asking for a raise can be a smart move. If you’ve recently changed jobs, received a promotion or realized you are underpaid compared to your peers, it might be time to sit down with your supervisor and request a raise.

10. Track any additional income carefully.

Earning money outside of a full-time job can complicate matters at tax time; be sure to keep a careful record of all income earned, as well as copies of receipts related to expenses. When it comes to writing off the home office as a tax deduction, be sure to study the IRS rules, which specify that the space can’t be used for other purposes.

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