This is a guest post from Brittany Fisher:
Easy Changes to Help You Gain Financial Freedom
Finances can often feel like a complicated subject. There are thousands of books on the topic, magazines dedicated to money management and investment; sections of the newspaper devoted to stocks and business, television channels exclusive to finances, podcasts, radio shows, and classes everywhere teaching some method or another on budgeting. While there’s a lot of information at your disposal, you don’t need to become a finance expert to have financial freedom. You can start improving your finances by implementing a few easy changes.
Look for Alternatives
We live in a world of options. No person or business has a monopoly on entertainment products or services, which gives you options on almost everything you consume. For instance, there are plenty of ways you can enjoy your favorite shows and movies. Streaming services are an affordable alternative to satellite or high-priced cable; and there are plenty of streaming device options that will suit your needs and offer you access to thousands of shows and movies.
If you enjoy audiobooks or books and pay for subscriptions, look into getting digitized library cards so you can tap into thousands of free book titles, including new releases. If you enjoy a gym membership, shop around to make sure you are getting the best deal in town. You don’t have to give up what you love to be smart with your money — just do a little research to ensure you’re getting the most for your dollar. You may find there are stores and providers that offer identical or comparable products or services at a lower price.
Change How You Give Gifts
Gift giving should be an enjoyable experience. Celebrating birthdays, weddings, holidays, new babies, and graduations should be stressless and not cause you anxiety about going into debt. When at all possible, plan ahead. If you know you will need to give gifts, as soon as possible, budget for the expenditure, shop sales and clearances, and use promo codes and/or coupons.
If you give gifts to groups of people, such as neighbors or co-workers, make homemade gifts that will show your effort and thoughtfulness while saving you money. Homemade gifts are not always cheaper than store-bought, of course, so do the cost benefit analysis first; but if you can save by making a crochet hat or baking cookies, that’s the way to go.
“One month free.” “3 months for only $24.99.” “Cancel any time.” “Check out these spoilers!” That’s how they get you. Whether you’re subscribing to certain lifestyle items, books, games, magazines, monthly beauty boxes, and/or food delivery, subscription prices can add up quickly. If you forget to cancel at the end of the promotional period or you don’t use the subscription enough, it’s time to cancel now. It may only be $9.99 here or $14.99 there, but over the course of the year, those costs add up. Don’t get rid of subscriptions you love and use all the time, but do take time to evaluate how often you use each one, why you have it, and if you still need it.
You don’t need to invest hours of your life every day to understanding finances in order to be financially smart. Budgeting and financial planning don’t need to be painful, either. Every so often, take a look at where you are spending money.
If you have extra money going out to overpriced goods or services, then you should look for alternatives. If you spend over your budget every year on gifts, then it’s time to look at other options and bring the joy back into gift giving. If you have memberships or subscriptions that drain your bank every month, then take time to evaluate what you actually use. Smart budgeting is not deprivation — it’s just planning.
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