100 Smart ways to improve your finances

100 tips that you can incorporate to manage your personal finances more effectively.

100 Smart ways to improve your finances

When it comes to handling your finances efficiently, it is often the simple things that matter most. We list down 100 smart tips that can improve your finances.

Savings and investments

  1. Bank with the best – Choose a reliable bank with good customer service, but also choose one that offers the best interest rates. 
  2. Maintain a budget – Once you develop the habit of budgeting, it is a great way of keeping your finances under control. Budgeting is not about penny-pinching; it’s meant to give you a clear picture of your financial transactions and position.
  3. Enable automatic savings – If you want to avoid procrastination, start saving in automatic mode. It could involve funnelling a specific amount every week or month to a high-interest investment.
  4. Keep increasing your savings – Make sure you increase your savings amount every year, or at least with every increase in your income. 
  5. Have an emergency fund – Make a goal to set aside an emergency fund. This can be very useful during a job loss, medical emergency, or similar situations. 
  6. Think of retirement planning – Set a goal for retirement and drive your savings and investment in its direction. Also, earmark an age by which you wish to retire and back-calculate your investment needs to secure your post-retirement future.
  7. Keep children’s education in mind – Various investment options help you with your child’s education and future. It could be a children’s money-back insurance plan, a milestone-based endowment plan, or a government scheme such as Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana.
  8. Buy health insurance – By purchasing a health insurance cover, you won’t have to dip into your savings in case of a medical emergency. It protects you from hefty medical bills by taking care of your medical expenses.
  9. Buy life insurance – By insuring the life of the earning member(s) of your family, you can safeguard the financial future of the dependent family even in their absence. Term insurance provides significant life cover at a comparatively lower premium.
  10. Invest in safe investments – When it comes to investment planning, it is best to start with safe investments and increase your risk appetite gradually. Government-backed investment options and bank fixed deposits are examples of safe investments with assured returns.
  11. Invest in mutual funds – An investment in mutual funds allows you to customise your risk exposure. You can play safe with a debt fund, or ride the market growth with an equity-heavy fund.
  12. Invest in reliable stocks – You can invest in the share market for higher profit, but this comes with greater market risk. Depending on your expertise, you can day-trade aggressively, or invest in blue chip companies for the long term.
  13. Invest in annuity income sources – As a part of your retirement planning, you can invest in annuity plans. In India, most insurance companies have annuity products yielding income that’s time-specific or for a lifetime.
  14. Do tax planning – While choosing your investment options, consider the tax savings that they deliver. Utilise the tax deductions that are also available through rent payments, insurance premiums, donations etc. 
  15. Invest in precious metals – Precious metals, particularly gold, are a great foil against market risks. It is a good investment portfolio diversifier. You can buy gold regularly for years with your child’s wedding in mind, rather than buying it in the eleventh hour.
  16. Beat inflation – Keep an eye on the inflation rate and check if your investments are beating it. If your investment growth rate is lower than the inflation rate, you will lose out on your net worth over time.
  17. Cut down the cost of investment – Minimise the effort and costs involved in your investments. It could be in the form of time, brokerage charges, annual fees etc.

Expenses

  1. Decided whether to rent or own – Depending on your location, examine whether it is cheaper to own a house or stay on rent. 
  2. Restrict rental expense – If you stay on rent, don’t end up renting a place that is excessive. Don’t stay in a posh neighbourhood when there are less expensive suburbs that are equally well-connected to your workplace.
  3. Go for general insurance – Make sure that all your valuable assets are protected with insurance. Insuring your car can protect you from damages and theft; similarly, fire and shop insurance are necessary for home and office space.
  1. Go easy with credit – Monitor how much you spend on your credit card. Credit cards come with high interest rates and the bills can take you by surprise.
  2. Curb banking and other charges – Identify avoidable charges and try to minimise them. For example, opt for an online bank statement, maintain a minimum account balance, and avoid chargeable banking services.
  3. Pay smart – Choose the payment mode that you can track more easily and makes you spend less. For instance, you may earn cashback on e-wallet payments.
  4. Shop wisely – Make a grocery list and stick to it while shopping. Avoid splurging on items that are either unhealthy or are rarely consumed.
  5. Do batch cooking – Cook larger portions and save time as well as money. Bake a cake to avoid buying sugary cookies for a week! 
  6. Waste less food – Introduce the habit of zero wastage in the family. It’s a good habit to cultivate, and the benefits go beyond money.
  7. Learn new recipes – Learn interesting recipes and soon you will be craving takeouts less often. It will keep the children happy too!
  8. Use discount coupons – You can earn discounts on most of your household shopping. It could be offered by the payment platform or the shop where you buy from. 
  9. Eat out less – Why go to restaurants when you can meet to eat at home? House parties and potlucks can be just as fun.
  10. Carry your lunch – You can save money and eat healthier by carrying your lunch to work, instead of relying on cafeterias, tiffin services, and restaurants.
  11. Avail of happy hours – Many restaurants offer happy hours where you can enjoy a meal at reduced prices.
  12. Get rid of vices – Smoking and drinking are unhealthy and are also getting costlier by the day. Your annual spends on these vices will add up to a tidy sum.
  13. Sell unused items – If there is an extra television lying unused or a treadmill that is gathering dust, it is time to declutter and cash in on them.
  14. Buy second-hand – There are household items available in near-mint condition online these days. Don’t hesitate to buy a used item if you see good value in it.
  15. Avoid impulse shopping – Avoid e-commerce sites or shopping malls unless you are really looking for something. You might end up buying something that you can do without.
  16. Evaluate purchases in terms of hours worked – While splurging on something, think of the number of hours you toiled to earn the money you are going to part with.
  17. Reduce shopping trips – Try to schedule weekly or monthly shopping trips. This will help you to live within your means.
  18. Use utilities prudently – Save electricity, water, cooking gas etc. This will reduce your utility bills.
  19. Use bonus and incentives wisely – You have worked just as hard for your bonus and incentives. Put it to productive use. Pay off some of the high-interest loans.
  20. Discontinue unused subscriptions – Be it club memberships or OTT subscriptions, stop the subscription if you don’t use it.
  21. Look for pay-as-you-use options – From gym membership to channel packages on your TV, go for use-based subscriptions rather than annual ones. 
  22. Don’t go for brands all the time – Unless unbranded alternatives are highly unreliable, avoid paying a premium just for the brand name while shopping.
  23. Become more self-reliant – Encourage self-help and stop being overly dependent on your domestic help.
  24. Plan gifts in advance – Buy for birthday and anniversary gifts in advance to avoid paying extra on last-moment purchases.
  25. Plan your needs in advance – We can shop judiciously when we have sufficient time. Buy that room heater early because winter is coming.
  26. Shop during the off-season – No harm in buying things during the off-season when you know you are going to use it eventually. You get attractive discounts on such sales.
  27. Go for a retail detox – Not that you should starve for a month, but stick to a no-shopping month or a no-shopping week to bring your expenses back in order.
  28. Avoid expensive activities – Identify and avoid activities where you spend much more than the utility you derive out of it. 
  29. Do-It-Yourself – Don’t let your laundry bills rise when you can iron your clothes AND watch your favourite web series. 
  30. Reuse and upcycle – Upcycle household items and make them objects of everyday utility as well as bohemian beauty.
  31. Use cheaper conveyance options – Instead of driving your car alone, you can opt for public transport or carpool and save on your transportation expenses.

Income and business 

  1. Improve your skill set – Identify and learn skills that can help you take up new work and earn more in your job or profession.
  1. Monetise your skills – If you have any hidden skills, nurture them to perfection. You may end up earning out of it. 
  2. Take up a part-time job – If you can manage to find some spare time, you can take up side gigs as a freelancer to earn additional income.
  3. Look for rental income – If you have property or a plot of land lying unutilised, consider developing it to earn some rental income.
  4. Monetise your assets – If you have an extra room, you can register in homestay listings. Similarly, if you have an extra car, you can put it to commercial use and make some money.
  5. Utilise office hours effectively – By using office time effectively you can avoid working overtime and put your spare time to more productive use.
  6. Look for better career options – Explore the job market and look for opportunities where you can earn more.
  7. Cut costs in business – If you are into business or a similar profession, streamline your operations and weed out unnecessary workplace expenses.
  8. Find better vendors – Look for suppliers and vendors who give you a better deal for their goods and services.
  9. Look for or encourage remote working – You can save money both as an employee as well as an employer by finding and encouraging work-from-home opportunities.
  10. Find better resources in business – If you have employees under you, try to optimise your workforce and look into their productivity.
  11. Outsource to outperform – Increase your business by concentrating on your core competencies and outsourcing support services like security, payroll, IT maintenance etc.
  12. Utilise employment benefits – Know more about how and where you can utilise the benefits that your employer offers you. For instance, you can use your office gym instead of paying for your workout elsewhere.
  13. Utilise government benefits – Find out and avail of government schemes for your business. For instance, government-backed loans can be more affordable than private commercial loans.

Debts

  1. Plan your debt repayment – Take stock of all the debts that you need to repay and plan your repayment strategy. 
  1. Consolidate debts – If you have multiple loans, go for a cheaper loan option to pay off the existing expensive loans.
  2. Target specific debts – Zero in on a particular debt and repay it. It will motivate you to further reduce your debts, one by one.
  3. Avoid additional debt – Don’t apply for a new loan if you already have existing ones that you need to get rid of. It will further increase your interest cost.
  4. Improve your credit score – Monitor your credit score and find out how to improve it. A good credit score can help you get a bigger and less expensive loan, should the need arise.
  5. Manage credit card dues – Late payment penalty on credit cards can be quite expensive. Try to pay off the dues on time.
  6. Make frequent debt repayments – Make frequent debt repayments no matter how small. It can be made from a portion of your bonus or any surplus income earned.
  7. Set a debt-to-income ratio – Experts say that the ideal debt-to-income ratio should be 28%. You can set a more realistic goal for yourself and work towards it.

General awareness

  1. Stay updated on finances – Happenings in the financial world can have an impact on your earnings and investments. So it helps to stay aware.
  1. Look for new investment opportunities – Look out for promising investment options and emerging financial instruments to increase your investment earnings.
  2. Hire a consultant – People like financial planners and chartered accountants can help you make the right financial decision and also avoid mistakes.
  3. Maintain a planner – Keep a digital or manual financial planner so that your financial to-do list is always updated. 
  4. Avoid late payments – Late fees and penalties are unnecessary expenses that should be always avoided.
  5. Increase your net worth – Check your net financial worth periodically so that you can correct any deviations and wealth erosions.
  6. Monitor finances regularly – Track your income and expenditure flows, debt repayment schedules, and investment performances regularly.
  7. Utilise withheld taxes – Account for the taxes withheld and deposited against your name while doing your tax assessment. Utilise input tax credits lying against your name. 

Financial well-being

  1. Maintain your vehicles well – Vehicle insurance doesn’t cover natural wear and tear. Therefore, maintain your vehicles to avoid major breakdowns.
  1. Maintain your work tools – Be it your computer or your workplace machinery, ensure regular maintenance so that they don’t need major repair or replacement. 
  2. Compare your insurance expenses – If you notice that you are paying more on your insurance premiums, look for negotiations or porting of the insurer.
  3. Compare your loan interest rates – Negotiate with your lender to revise your interest rate and correct it as per market rates.
  4. Plan your estate – Ensure clarity of ownership and inheritance of your estate, and settle all the related paperwork and taxation issues.
  5. Stay fit – A fit lifestyle will not only improve your general well-being but also reduce your medical bills.
  6. Safeguard mental health – Your state of mind also affects your financial decision-making. So make sure you stay happy and in a good emotional state. 
  7. Exercise at home – You don’t need to pay for the gym if you can maintain a regular workout schedule at home.
  8. Travel on a budget – Prepare for your travels in advance and seek budget options to avoid unnecessary expenses while on vacation.
  9. Replace your car – It is better to replace an old car after a certain age. A new car can be more fuel efficient and involves less maintenance compared to the old one. 
  10. Give your kids ‘experiences’, not gizmos – We tend to give our kids everything they ask for, but sometimes a simple picnic can give them more joy than an expensive gadget.
  11. Teach your kid to accept hand-me-downs – Hand-me-downs are every parent’s answer to expensive children’s clothes. You have worn them as a child, so why shouldn’t your child learn the art of thrift?
  12. Avoid peer pressure – Avoid buying things just because your neighbour or your colleague did. Buy it only if you need it.
  13. Encourage piggy banks – Piggy banks are a symbolic and engaging way of promoting saving habits within the family, particularly children.
  14. Try the 50:30:20 rule – Following golden rules like the 50:30:20 rule gives you a macro-level control over your spending behaviour.
  15. Invest in assets that last – Be it mobile phones or household appliances, buy products that give you value for the money spent and don’t need replacing any time soon.
  16. Avoid dipping into your savings – Try to live your daily life with the money that you earn, without liquidating your savings and investments.
  17. Plan your post-retirement income – Explore the possibility of employment after retirement, maybe as a consultant in the same profession or trying something new.
  1. Consider the cost of living – Consider the cost of living in your city and be open to new locations if it means better finances.

Through judicious spending, proactive planning, and regular monitoring, you will be able to incorporate all these smart tips and see a substantial improvement in your finances.

Disclaimer: This article is intended for general information purposes only and should not be construed as insurance or investment or tax or legal advice. You should separately obtain independent advice when making decisions in these areas




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