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DIY: How To Improve Your Personal Finances

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Even if you’re not looking for a property this exact second, you always want to be improving your position.

So, focus on the downtime to improve your finances, get your debt squared away, and put yourself in a better position when you are ready to buy!

It’s important to be sure of your financial position before you buy a property because you might find it’s harder to get that property than you would have originally thought.

Here are a few ways to quickly improve your finances to help you save more, pay down more debt, and qualify for better loans.

Pay Attention

One of the most common reasons that people struggle financially is because they simply don’t pay attention to what is going on in their own financial life. If you are not paying attention, you can’t hope to know what is going on and therefore know how to improve matters.

So, the first item on your list is to start paying attention to your finances!

When I’m working on a project, I’m laser-focused on the budget, the details, the costs, etc. But, sometimes in my personal life, I let this slide.

The reality is, when we do have a budget and focus on sticking to it, our bank account balances grow so much faster than when we aren’t using one.

I love to eat out, and my wife loves to buy small things around the house. One day, we looked back over the previous year of spending and found we each averaged over $1,000 per month on our hobbies!

By pulling back a little in each area, we were able to save over $1,000 per month but still do the things we enjoyed.

So, start by having a budget!

Even if you are financially well off and can afford most of what you want, by budgeting for the items and spreading the costs out over several months, you’ll find that you buy less, spend less, and save more.

Also, if you budget to pay down certain debts faster, you’ll see those balances dramatically drop!

So, do not overlook the importance of a family budget.

Save On Other Purchases

There might be a number of other big purchases you need to make before you get hold of your next property, and it is a good idea to make sure that you are only spending as much on those as absolutely necessary.

For any big ticket items, we actually start searching for them months or even a year in advance. For example, let’s consider kitchen appliances.

As you know, a full set of appliances can easily cost $5,000-$10,000 if you are getting high-end products. It includes a fridge, double oven, gas cooktop, microwave/fan, and dishwasher.

The first thing we did was go to the store and decide on two or three brands, styles and product lines we wanted. It’s hard to compare prices unless you are looking at similar products between stores.

Then, for months we’ll watch these items and their prices. Occasionally there will be sales and by tracking the pricing all year, we know which sales are worth getting or not. When we feel we are getting the best price, we’ll buy.

And by doing that, we can easily save $500-$1,000 or even more.

We did something similar with our TV, computer monitors, etc. Basically, anything that is currently working that we want to upgrade. Over the course of a year, we are saving thousands of dollars.

You might also use a money saving app to help.

Saving money in all these places will make an enormous difference when it comes to saving for your next down-payment

Pay Down Debt

With all the money you are saving by budgeting and by planning out major purchases, you might want to use some of it to pay down debt.

You’ll have to decide if it’s better to pay down debt or have a larger down payment because both will hold you back on your next purchase.

But, generally, paying down $1/month in debt is worth about $3/month in income. At least, as far as loans are concerned.

If you do decide to work on paying down your debt, I fully detail a unique debt pay down method to get you into your next rental property faster.

Increase Your Income

Most people just focus on debt, but the reality is you can only cut your expenses so much.

Income, on the other hand, has unlimited potential. So, why not focus on growing your income?

Increasing your monthly income can be done in a number of passive and active ways, and it is worth looking into as many of these as you can to find the right one for you. I outline a number of ways to increase your income in this article on how to earn $10,000 per month.

While earning $10,000 per month in side-income might seem a long way off, it’s important to start! Even if you can earn an extra $500 month now, and grow it slowly over time, it’s worth it!.

Don’t Focus on Just One Thing

As I mentioned already, focusing on just budgeting, or debt paydown can be detrimental to your overall financial goals. It’s important to combine a number of different things into an overall strategy, which includes budgeting, debt paydown, and increasing your income.

This article originally appeared on IdealREI. Follow them on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

Personal Finance

INTERVIEW: Ex-NY Giants Star Shares His Business Philosophy

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Athletes going broke is a popular phenomenon, despite their hefty paycheck. But not all do. In this video, Victor Cruz, former NY Giants star breaks down his philosophy on business and financial planning — and how not to go #broke.

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Personal Finance

Productivity Hacks Infographic: Top 20 Apps That Can Maximize Your Time

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In today’s competitive and demand-driven world, there’s a constant need to stay on top of things. Between incessant emails and back-to-back meetings, phone calls and dozens of things to cross off your checklist, it’s no surprise we’re struggling to reach our productivity’s peak.

Here are 20 apps that helps you do just that.

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Personal Finance

DIY: Your 5-Step Financial Planning Guide

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If you’re starting out to plan your financial future, it can get overwhelming. While many opt for a financial advisor to take care of the entire process, you can always handle your financial planning all by yourself (it’s simple, really) if you’ve got the right tools.

For starters, here’s what you need:

1. Set Goals!

Chalk out your goals—it can be short term, like paying off your card payment bills or long term, to meet expenses like retirement and your kids’ education.

Take a step back and do a reality check. Where do you stand now? How are your cash flows? How soon can you meet your expenses? Create a timeline to achieve these targets (and ensure you meet them!)

2. Do The Math

Calculate your total assets, after deducting the debts—and budget smart. Ditch your debt to stay away from piling on more to your list of financial risks. If you’ve got way too many debts to clear and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep track of them, here’s a great tool that comes in handy.

3. Build An Emergency Fund

Uncertainties can be hard, more so if they have a significant financial impact—be it an illness, job loss, or even global downturns.

To evade being stranded, ensure that you’ve built an emergency fund (a good start would be to keep aside six months’ worth of expenses), along with solid insurance coverage to back you up.

4. Hire The Right Agents

Apart from the general power of attorney, also ensure you lay out a directive in case a medical emergency comes up (if you’re incapacitated—we know, it’s not the best of thoughts to ponder over). To ensure you plan right, avail the services of an accountant, a real estate planning authority, and a medical power of attorney.

5. Earn Money On Your Money

The final step is to make sure you earn returns off your money. How’d you go about this? To start with, educate yourself. Read, read and read some more—research about what stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs and other financial instruments do. Understand their risks, costs and how you can work on diversifying your investment.

It’s important to invest in something you understand.

Post this, set up your accounts to meet each of your goals—through monthly contribution plans, 401(k)s, low-cost index funds, IRAs or other savings plans. If all these details get you dizzy (or overwhelmingly hard), you’re better off with a financial planner who can do the research and investment planning for you.

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