You know those people who organize their finances with multiple Excel spreadsheets and sophisticated investing strategies? Annoying or admirable, they kind of make you feel bad about your own, less-than-perfect finances, right?
But let’s face it: The last thing you want to do is spend that much energy budgeting. Well, guess what? It's possible to improve your finances by doing a few things that actually require very little effort. Read on to learn how you can gain better control of your money—one easy tip at a time.
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Order Staple Items Online
When we first reported on the Subscribe and Save offering from Amazon, we thought it was an especially good perk for parents. But it's actually great for anyone who likes discounted goods—and dislikes having to make frequent runs to the grocery store.
The premise: You choose items that you often need to restock—toilet paper, soap, detergent—and then set up regular, free shipments. Plus, many of the items are discounted on top of that.
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Drop Change Into a Jar
It may sound crazy, but we sometimes forget that coins carry value. If you have loose change in your wallet or purse, you're more likely to spend it … or lose it in the depths of your car or couch cushions.
By putting your excess daily change into a jar, you’re preventing frivolous spending. And once you have a healthy stash, you can take your coins to the bank and deposit them. More savings!
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Earn More Doing the Same Work
If you’re putting the time and effort in—and you have the results to prove your worth—it may be time to ask for a raise. As the saying goes: no risk, no reward. So put yourself out there, and earn a better salary for the job you've already done.
Just make sure that you have a strategy in place before meeting with your boss. When negotiating a salary increase, split the difference between what you currently make and your asking number. For instance, if you earn $30,000 a year, but you want to make about $35,000, ask for $39,500. And make it a point to show your manager just how your work has benefited the company, as well as how you’ve exceeded expectations and responsibilities.
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Automate Your Savings
It’s payday ... and Groupon’s deals have never looked better. Even if we know that we should be saving up for a new car, our desires can cloud our better judgment. That’s why it’s in your best interest to build up your savings before that money disappears into a flash-sale pit.
The solution? Ask your employer to auto-deposit your paychecks, so you can set up automatic transfers to your savings account, guaranteeing that you squirrel away some cash each pay period.
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Dry-Clean Your Clothes at Home
Stop schlepping things to the dry cleaners, and use Dryel on your “dry-clean only” items instead. The starter kit costs just $7 (a pack of six refill dryer sheets is an additional $9), compared to $5 or more for each blouse that you bring to the dry cleaners. Just be sure to spot test more expensive and treasured items before using the kit to clean them.
Or check out Craigslist to see if there are any surprising ways you can make extra money, like being a mystery shopper or a brand ambassador. In other words, we're talking about positions that offer extra money and lots of flexibility.
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There's no need to spend extra money on over-the-counter medicine just because it’s a name brand. The same goes for that box of cereal or jar of peanut butter. In fact, generic house brands are often identical ingredient-wise to name-brand products—they just lack the fancy labeling. Luckily, it’s just as easy to get your hands on generic products as it is name-brand items—they're usually on the same shelf.