A spark plug from a tuneup

Tune Up Time

Spring cleaning is just about upon us and it is time to get more cleaned up than just your home. Could your finances use a little upgrade? Have you had to turn to an emergency loan in the past 12 months? If so, let’s look at some ways to change this trend. Why not do a little financial tuneup and get yourself on the right track? Here are some simple places to start.

Tune Up Your Credit

First and foremost on your tune up list should be improving that credit score. A good credit score can do so much for you. The obvious thing is that it can get you a good rate on a loan, but there is so much more. A good credit score can save you money on day to day bills and can even help you land a job.

If you have no idea what the state of your credit is, your first step is to change that. Sign up for a free credit monitoring service like Credit Karma or Credit Sesame and see where you stand.

Once you know your score, you can go about improving it. First, dispute any incorrect information and information that should have dropped off. Most negative marks are supposed to drop off after 7 years but they do not always do so automatically.

Next, you need to work on the 2 biggest factors that affect your score. They are on time payments and revolving credit balance.

Make a plan to pay all of those bills on time every month. Use email reminders, text reminders and automatic payments when possible.

Then, turn to your revolving credit debt. You need to get the amount of credit that you are using under 30 percent. You will never do that making just the minimum payments, so budget a bit more each month. Even if you pay just 10 percent over the minimum, it can help you lash your debt much faster.

Tune Up Your Savings

You do have a savings right? If not, that is a huge problem.

A savings account is one of your most important financial tools that you can take advantage of. You can use it to stash a little money away each month. Over time, with the power of compound interest, it will build into a nice little nest egg that you can use to handle emergencies instead of payday loans.

If you do not currently have a savings account, your first step is to open one. Don’t worry, you do not have to have a lot of money to open an account. In fact, many banks allow you to open an account with a zero balance.

I suggest an online account such as Marcus from Goldman Sachs. It will allow you to keep your money separate from your day to day spending account. This separation will help you stay disciplined. Out of sight, out of mind.

If money is tight, even just a little bit of cash can go a long way towards building a nice little emergency fund. If you get paid every two weeks and deposit just 20 dollars into an account, you will have over 500 dollars saved in a year.

Tune Up Your Spending Habits

If you are like most Americans, you waste a lot of money by mismanaging your finances. Make it a point to spend your money more thoughtfully this year.

If you do not have a written budget, now is the time to get one. Write down all of your monthly expenses and include allotments for food, entertainment, fuel, etc.

Once you have your budget in writing, look at a way to slash it. Start with a goal of reducing your monthly expenses by just 50 dollars. Not a lot of money, but it adds up to $600 over the course of a year.

There are many ways to reach your 50 dollar goal. You can shop for cheaper car insurance, refinance a loan or even join a discount club in order to save on groceries.

Tune Up Your Career

When was the last time that you gave some thoughts to your career? It has probably been some time.

Many people become complacent and like to stick with the status quo. That is what most employers are banking on, so they spend more money on new hires than on their current employees. This means that if you want that really big raise, you will probably have to go job hunting.

Dig up your old resume and give it a bit of a refresher. List all of your skills but be careful to keep things Put yourself out there and see what the market looks like. If you are in a white collar position, also be sure to consider a recruiter.

If you are in a blue collar trade, you are not left out, there is plenty of room for growth. The low unemployment rate means that employers are struggling to fill their positions. That means companies are more than willing to offer you higher wages and even signing bonuses. Get 2000 dollars or more, just from switching to a higher paying job.

Tune Up Yourself

Last, but not least, don’t forget about yourself. There are a lot of simple ways that you can improve yourself that will pay huge dividends and not just financial ones.

Consider starting an exercise program with the goal of getting in shape, not just losing weight. Weight training and cardio are very important. Weight training can help keep your bones strong and cardio will keep that heart in shape. You only have one heart, take care of it.

Besides your fitness, you can also improve your work skills. Learn a new language, get a certification or maybe go back to school. Improving your skills can help you improve your marketability and, if nothing else, can just make you feel better about yourself.

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James Car is a finance, loan and budget expert based in the United States. After attending Brookhaven college, he went on to become a successful entrepreneur. He now enjoys writing articles that help people save and make the most of their money.