20 Challenges You Can Take to Change Your Financial Picture

If you feel stuck in your situation or that you simply cannot get ahead no matter what you do, you need to make some changes to the way that you handle your finances. You need to stop sabotaging your finances and really begin to make changes. These challenges vary in length but can make a big difference in how successful you are in handling your finances over the year. 

Start Budgeting

Your budget makes it easier to change your finances.
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If you are struggling with handling your finances, then you likely need to start budgeting. Your budget is your best tool to change your financial future. If you are not already budgeting each month, you need to set up a budget now. If you have a budget, but it is not working, take the time to figure out how to fix your budget so you can start to make your money work for you. 

Cut Your Monthly Bills

Cutting your monthly bills can help you take control of your finances.
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An easy thing you can do to change your financial picture is to cut your monthly bills. This can be done with a few options, from lowering your utility costs to choosing different providers for your insurance and other services. Take the time now to cut at least one of your bills for the next few months. 

Cancel Cable

Can cutting cable save you money?
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If you feel like your spending is out of control or you just want to reach your financial goals more quickly, you should consider cutting cable. There are a number of alternatives that allow you to watch the shows you love without spending a ton each month to do it. There are even options if you do not want to give up your sports challenges.  

Stop Eating Out

Take the challenge to stop eating out for a month.
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One of the biggest ways to waste your money is by eating out. The occasional splurge may be okay, but the savings can add up if you start cooking at home instead of eating out each day. Take the challenge to stop eating out by cooking at home for at least a week. The next week, start taking your lunches to work. You may be surprised at just how much you can save.  

Plan a Monthly Menu

Planning monthly menu can help you save money each month.
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If the idea of cooking every night is intimidating to you, planning a monthly menu can make it a lot easier. The nice thing about planning out the entire month is that you can do batch cooking or chopping. It makes it easier to shop and ensures that you waste less food since you will most likely use all the ingredients you buy. An alternative is to use a menu planning service to help make cooking and shopping easier.  

Read a Book About Personal Finances

Reading a book about finances can help give you the power to change.

If you want to change something about your finances, but you are not sure where to start, you should consider reading a book about the subject. If you want to get out of debt, you should check out The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. Your Money or Your Life is another great read that helps you look at the way you handle your money differently.

Learn About Investing

Investing can help you start building wealth.
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One of the key steps to building wealth is to start investing. If the idea of investing intimidates you then start learning about. Enroll in a class about investing or try out a program or app that lets you practice investing while you are working out of debt. You can also find a financial advisor who can help you understand the market. 

Set Tangible Realistic Goals

Set financial goals to help you change your finances.
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Take the time to set goals that you are working toward. If you do not have specific things that you are working for, it is difficult to motivate yourself to keep saving each month. As you set your goals make sure that they are realistic. You do not want to get discouraged because you want to pay off $40,000 in debt in just a year when you only make $30,000. Make a way to track your goals so that you can see how much you have accomplished. This can help you stay on track when you are working on a long-term goal. 

Set Up a Financial Plan

Your financial plan can help you take control of your future.
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A financial plan is essential if you want to accomplish specific goals. Your financial plan will set up a timeline for the big milestones in your life. It will also help you prioritize your goals, since it is often more effective to focus on one or two goals at a time. This plan should include things like buying a home, saving for retirement, and paying for your kids’ college education.  

Pay Off Your Debt

Pay off your debt to get control of your future.
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One of the most foolish things you can do is to carry a lot of debt, especially credit card debt. If you want to change your financial picture and gain more financial opportunities, you need to work on paying off your debt as quickly as possible. Set up a debt payment plan today and set goals that can help you pay it off as quickly as possible. 

Stop Using Your Credit Cards

Cutting up your cards isn't enough. Learn how to cancel them.
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If you are struggling to make ends each month, you may be relying on your credit cards to get by. However, if you really want to change your financial picture, you need to stop using your credit cards. If you keep putting money on your cards, you will end up owing more and more each month and limiting how much money you have available to you. Leave your credit cards at home, and get control of your budget so that you can start to change your financial picture. 

Take Care of Your Student Loans

Is your student loan breaking the bank? Learn how much it's actually costing you.
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Your student loans can follow you around for years if you are not proactive about them. Whether you need to consolidate them, see if you qualify for a student loan forgiveness program or just put them into your debt payment plan, you need to do something about your student loans as soon as possible.  

Start Saving Each Week

Start paying yourself first.
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Another challenge is to put money into savings each week. This could be money that you find by saving on your grocery budget each month. It could be a set amount that you put aside from each paycheck. Look for ways to increase your savings. Start paying yourself each month. Soon the money will start adding up. Start with just $20 a week, you will end up with more than $1,000 in a year. 

Go on a Spending Fast

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Another challenge that can help you curb your spending is to go on a spending fast. A spending fast is where you stop spending money for a set period of time. Often these are month long fasts with exceptions made for gas and a limited amount of groceries. This can help you change your habits and evaluate what you need as opposed to what you want.  

Protect Your Savings

Protect your savings from yourself.
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If you are great at putting money into savings each month, but it seems like your savings balance is not really growing, you may need to take steps to protect your savings from yourself. These can be things like moving your savings to an online bank or starting an emergency fund

Increase Your Retirement Savings

Find ways to increase your retirement.
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You need to start saving for retirement from the time you start your first job. If you are working on getting out of debt, contribute up to the match offered by your employer. If you are out of debt, work on increasing your savings until you are contributing about 15 percent of your income. 

Find Additional Sources of Income

Find ways to increase your income.
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Sometimes financial issues are not spending issues, but income issues. It is also nice to have more than one source of income. This provides additional stability, especially if you are single or you are a single income household. Look for ideas that allow you to generate income on the side or in addition to your job. Passive income is a great way to build wealth or find extra money to get out of debt.  

Improve Your Job Skills

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Another important thing you can do is to increase your job security. One way to do this is to make sure that you have the skills you need to stay competitive in the workplace. This may mean taking extra certifications or training through your current employer. It may mean heading back to college for a graduate degree.  

Get the Right Amount of Insurance

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You can protect your finances by having the right amount of insurance. This should include car and renter’s or home insurance, as well as health and life insurance. Insurance protects you from the catastrophes that can set your finances into a spiral. If you do not already have insurance, start looking for coverage today.  

Make the Most of Your Employee Benefits

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In addition to your retirement and health insurance, your company may offer additional employee benefits like dental insurance, vision insurance, and flexible spending accounts. Not all of these benefits may be worth the additional money that you pay for them, but some of them may be. Take the time to make sure you are getting the most from your employee benefits.