If you’re like most people, you experience at least some level of anxiety about your financial situation. We don’t have to tell you how impactful that anxiety can be to your sleep, energy levels, ability to focus and be productive at work, and overall fulfillment.
Perhaps that’s why so many people set financial New Year’s resolutions every year. Unfortunately, however, research has shown that about 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail before February and only 8% of resolutions are successful.
It doesn’t have to be that way. With the calendar past the date by when most people’s resolutions fail, now is the perfect time to take a few small, simple steps that can improve your finances, set a more solid financial foundation, and reduce or prevent financial anxiety that plagues so many people.
Here are three simple steps you can start right now to improve your finances in 2022 and beyond.
1. Get Rid of High Interest Payments
Although credit cards are convenient, many come with extremely high interest rates that can turn even small purchases into very large expenditures. Even in low interest rate environments, average credit card interest rates can exceed 15%, with many cards charging well over 20%.
With high interest rates, it can take years to pay off credit cards if you pay only the minimum payments. You can even end up paying more in interest charges than you paid for the item you charged if you don’t pay off the debt early. Additionally, your credit score can go down significantly because banks will consider you a higher risk borrower due to your high-interest debt payments taking up so much of your income. Together, the high-interest debts and lower credit score can result in higher interest rates and difficulty qualifying for car loans or a mortgage.
If you don’t have the financial flexibility to pay off high interest payments, consider upgrading to a simple installment loan. Many times, installment loans can provide lower interest rates, lower monthly payments, shorter terms, or a combination of those benefits. Over time, that can improve your credit score and make car loans, mortgages, and other borrowing cheaper and easier.
2. Improve Your Cash Flow
If you’ve been living paycheck to paycheck, even a small improvement to your cash flow can significantly reduce your stress.
One way to improve your cash flow is to take a short, 90-day cash flow improvement sprint. If you’re married or have a significant other, talk with them about taking a short 90-day sprint to improve your cash flow to stabilize your day-to-day finances. No need to announce anything to the world. Just take 90 days to limit discretionary spending and identify debts you can reduce or consolidate, especially debts with high interest rates or variable payment amounts.
During those 90 days, consider consolidating debts from multiple payments or high interest rates into one low-interest loan with a consistent payment amount that frees up cash flow and gives you room for emergencies or unexpected expenses. Also consider limiting some discretionary spending and putting that money toward a small emergency fund or paying down debt.
By doing so, you can create a significant improvement in your cash flow and reduce the stress of living paycheck-to-paycheck.
3. Reduce Monthly Payments
Finally, many people struggle with the stress of making payments to dozens of different companies every month. From insurance companies to mortgage or rent payments to multiple credit cards and student loans, making so many payments often introduces unnecessary complexity into your financial life and leaves you vulnerable to inadvertently missing a payment.
To reduce that risk and stress, look for opportunities to pay off small balance loans and consolidate multiple high-interest loans into a single, lower-interest one. That combination will simplify and streamline your finances, in addition to reducing both interest payments and the likelihood that a payment or two will accidentally slip your mind.
Improve Your Finances With Just Three Simple Steps
Although complex financial strategies get a lot of buzz, the truth is that you can make a quicker and bigger impact by making just three small and simple financial moves. Not only can these moves reduce stress in the short term, they can build a more solid foundation and even free up cash to invest and make some of the more complex financial strategies down the road.
So, if you’ve experienced anxiety about your financial situation, consider starting with these three simple strategies to improve your financial foundation in 2022 and beyond.