Guest post by: Savannah Hemmings
It’s tax season and most people are either enjoying their refunds or wondering why their tax bill is so high. Although we’re well into the New Year, one of your ongoing goals for 2016 should be to secure your finances. Spending money is fun, but you need to be thinking about the worst-case scenario. What if the economy collapses again? Will you be financially prepared?
Luckily, securing your finances can be more fun than you might think. Here are some entertaining ways you can save and make money in 2016.
Get on Track with Apps
You can’t start the process of securing your finances without determining your financial climate first. Get a handle on your finances by first assessing, and then keeping track of spending, income and accounts. Several apps are available to simplify this process for you.
Mint.com is a free app for Windows, Android and iOS. Keep track of what’s coming in and going out and breaks your expenditures into categories. So you can determine whether you’re spending too much money in a certain category each month. You can also access bank, investment and retirement accounts.
Each transaction appears on the app. If you approved it, fine. If not, you can get a reminder, contact the merchant or handle it later. If you do delay, BillGuard will nag you electronically until you deal with the issue.
PocketExpense for iOS works more like an old-school notebook, but instead of putting pen to paper, you type in your transactions.
No accounts are synced. You manually enter your income and outflow. This is a good app to track spending before you create a budget.
If you’re ready for the big time, HomeBudget gives you all the tools necessary to plan and monitor your finances. Android and iOS full versions are available for a fee.
Oversee your income, expenses and bills. Set a budget. Keep track of your accounts. Information appears both numerically and in color-coded charts.
Now that you’ve got a good assessment of your financial situation, time to straighten it out!
Say No to Promotions
What happens every time you turn on the TV, go on social media, check your email, watch a YouTube video or do anything? Advertisements pop up. No matter where you turn, there is a sale at store X or new products from store Y.
You should start to keep track of how much money you are spending on products you can probably do without. You might be surprised how many times you respond to an advertisement.
If your email inbox is flooded with ads, make sure you unsubscribe from retailers’ newsletters. Un-follow your favorite companies on social media and DVR your favorite shows so you can skip through the commercials. An added bonus to skipping commercials is you’ll have more time to accomplish your other 2016 goals.
Another great way to save money is by ridesharing. Instead of wasting gas or paying the full fare to get somewhere, find someone else who is going to the same area and ride with them. You’ll be surprised how much you can spend just to get from point A to point B.
With that being said, you can also make some money by driving people around. Uber, Lyft and other companies are making it possible for people to have their own small business by getting in their car and driving people to their destination. If you’re over 21 years old, you can start making money by driving around your city.
Monetize Your Hobbies
Get paid for pastimes you enjoy. Do you spend parts of your day sitting on the couch with your laptop? Good news! You can make money doing that.
Some blogs pay people to write articles for them. This means you can make money just by writing about some of your favorite topics. Certain blogs offer $50 or more for just for one article.
Are you artsy or craftsy? Try Etsy, where creative people open online shops to sell products all over the world. Want to market handmade or vintage items? Got unusual craft supplies to market? Etsy is the forum for you.
Shopkeepers pay a tiny listing fee for each item. If it sells, Etsy collects a modest commission. Most participants run their shops as small businesses, and almost one-third consider them full-time work.
If you have a service to offer, display it on Fiverr. Create a listing that describes your service and sets a price and delivery time. Fiverr promotes its clients on popular websites, and orders and payments come in online. All sellers must start by charging $5. As time passes and orders add up, sellers are allowed to raise their prices. Fiverr takes a percentage of the fee.
With extra money from your sideline, your finances are more secure. You can also use this supplement for luxury products or fun activities, while your more traditional income goes toward the necessities.
Sell Old Stuff
Take a look in your closet. Will you ever wear some of those shirts again? Now go to your living room. Do you really need two copies of “The Wolf of Wall Street” on Blu-ray?
If you look around your house or apartment, you’ll start to realize you own a lot of things you never use. Some collector’s items from your childhood like comic books, baseball cards and American Girl dolls might even be worth more money than you think.
Take a day and go through everything you own. Put aside anything you don’t need, and be prepared to sell them on eBay or Craigslist. Selling things you haven’t used in a long time or no longer need will also help declutter your home – which can boost productivity and help you feel more organized.
Embrace the Do-It-Yourself Lifestyle
Do you need a new bookshelf? Put the phone down. It’s time you learn to do it yourself. There are plenty of websites and books that will help you learn how to do anything you would normally pay someone a lot of money to do for you.
There are many benefits to the DIY lifestyle. When you choose to do something yourself, the only cost is for the materials of that project. Aside from that, you’ll learn some new skills, and you’ll be proud of yourself for creating items in your home.
Be Smart in 2016
Your finances are important. Make sure you spend your money wisely and save it until you have to use it.