Money Talks, So Should You

5 ways to improve your financial outlook

Brandon Lafving
by Brandon Lafving, Dimespring Contributor (@TechDragoon)

Almost no one starts reading about finance for pleasure. That would be like jumping into a pit full of venomous snakes just for kicks. Well… some people do that, but they're crazy, and there's a reason why there aren't very many of them. It's called snakebite.

The rest of us just wake up one day, covered in debt and wonder how we can dig our way out.

READ: 10 money conversations most families never have

Here are a few ways to start digging in the right direction.

The golden rule of finance – Stop freaking out

It does not take a rocket scientist to rack up loads of debt, and it does not take one to relieve loads of debt. Generally, if you were smart enough to rack up the debt you have, you are smart enough to pay it off. Some options, like bankruptcy, will do serious harm to your credit. Others, like scrimping and saving for years, might make you wish you had filed for bankruptcy. But there is one similarity between all the options.

Attaining a bright financial outlook takes two things: time and discipline. You aren't going to lose it all in a moment. And you won't earn it all in a moment either. So it always helps to take a deep breath before you start. One, two…

Budget

In order to start moving forward, you need to understand what financial stability means for you. Creating a budget of your income and expenses sets that standard, so you know what you can and cannot afford. After you make the initial budget, it is always a good idea to look back. Over time, accounting creates discipline in your spending habits. And in the meantime, budgeting can give you new ideas for how to reduce your expenses.

Spend Less

Often, you don't need to sacrifice a lot in order to save. Switching out your incandescent lights for LED bulbs can save you hundreds each year, for instance. I only know that because I Googled, "save money on electric bill," and read through the results. You can do that for every item on your list of expenses.

READ: How to improve your finances without a financial adviser

Earn More

Improving your earnings is usually a bit trickier than spending less, but it is always possible to earn more. You can be a better worker, a better coworker, or find a part-time job on the side. You can matriculate in a class or two, which will improve your skills and result in a better long-term outlook. When you don't want to save any more, earn more!

Read about Personal Finance

No one knows all there is to know about money. And the landscape is always changing. Opportunities are closing. Opportunities are opening. Dimespring and Banks.com as well as a host of other websites contain valuable information that you can use to benefit your long-term outlook. So the more you can read, the better.

 

Brandon D. Lafving is an independent writer with an interest in financial systems. A graduate of Princeton University, Brandon has published journalism in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Metro, and WXPN. He also consults, researches and writes reports for small and mid-size businesses.