Creating wealth takes a while, but if you give your finances some attention, you can significantly build upon your wealth over a surprisingly short period of time. We’re already into the dog days of summer now but we’ve made a list and checked it twice so that you could be thousands of dollars better off by the time the holiday season rolls around. And once you’ve done that, check out our exclusive report on the 25 Best Wealth-Building Tips of All Time!
Make short- to medium-term financial goals
The first question you have to ask yourself is, “Exactly how much richer do I want to be by the end of the year?” Deciding on the minimum acceptable figure and writing it down will help you make and adhere to all the small lifestyle changes listed below. It’s not elven magic: It’s deciding on a destination and heading toward it.
Remind people about yourself
It’s easy to fall out of touch with people who could prove to be allies in your wealth-building goals. Log in to LinkedIn and see what these guys and gals are up to these days. Drop them a line to say “hey,” and in doing so, you’ll be on their radar when they need just the right man for a new freelance project — or even a lucrative full-time role they’re looking to fill between now and when the ball drops. Consistent networking is just one of the 25 Things Rich People Always Do!
Build a case for a raise
Speaking of LinkedIn, spend some time updating and revivifying your profile. Even if you’re happy where you are work-wise, by reminding yourself of all you’ve achieved, you can get a better handle of where you add value to your company and feel confident about discussing a raise. If you can commit to socking away even a modest raise between now and mid-December, you’re going to be sitting pretty at the holiday table.
Bust a lateral move
Sometimes we’re so immersed in our role at work that we can’t see where our skill set would have value at another company, another industry or for a small business that we start ourselves. Book a session with a career counselor. You’ll feel better about more lucrative job options open to you. Consider making a move before the season is upon us.
Invest in your education
Is there a skill that you don’t have that you believe will increase your wealth-generating potential? Start acquiring it immediately, even if it means an initial outlay of cash. You’ll be increasing your value from the first lesson and the extra confidence learning this new skill will engender will instill you with greater confidence to make a career move, negotiate a raise or even strike out on your own.
Fix your own stuff
Even minor or simple repairs can be especially expensive when carried out by plumbers, electricians and mechanics and there’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re on the receiving end of a shakedown. The best way to prevent that is to empower yourself and get to grips with what exactly needs to be done and decide whether it’s something that you can look into yourself. Invest in these 25 Tools Every Man Should Own — they’ll pay for themselves.
Get a home energy audit
Before the days and nights get chilly, get a home energy audit. It’s going to help you figure out how many dollars are seeping out of your home in the form of lost energy. It should cost anywhere from $300 to $500 for a professional to do this, but it could help you save much more than that over time.
Think big and live small
Think about the size of your car, your home, your boat, your timeshare, wine cellar, your everything. Really ask yourself about the true value of all of the items that are putting a strain on you and dictating how much and how hard you work, then imagine scaling each of them down or getting rid of them completely. It could be that the money you’ll save could mean that by December, you’ll have a bigger bulging sack…of cash! For an action plan, check out How to Cut $10,000 From Your Annual Expenses!
Postpone big-ticket purchases
One of the best ways to fend against buyer’s remorse is to resolve that you’ll wait a week to buy any item over, say, $250. We live in a time when practically anything we want will arrive at our home in two days after just a few mouse clicks. Cool your jets and see if your cooler head will prevail. The savings should start piling up like winter snow before too long.
Learn to cook
As a nation, we eat out between four and five times a week, on average. Eating out can be fun, convenient or just a change of scenery, but it’s also incredibly expensive when compared to making food at home. By scaling back how much you eat at restaurants — factoring in transportation, parking, babysitters, marked-up bottles of wine, etc. — you could save piles of money by the winter solstice. Get started by making sure you have these 25 Kitchen Gadgets Every Man Should Own!
Don’t grocery shop when you’re hungry
Research published in 2013 confirmed that grocery shopping with a rumbling stomach is not a good idea. It’s not that hungry shoppers are inclined to buy more, but rather less healthful food. Studies have shown that in addition to adversely affecting your overall health and body composition, junk food consumption is correlated with lower productivity and higher rates of depression. When you’re looking to increase your wealth over the short, medium or long term, none of that is good news. Eat before you go.
Limit your trips to the grocery store
Doing your grocery shopping requires a little more forethought about what you’ll be eating throughout the week, but the result will be that you’ll have fewer opportunities to buy food items you don’t need.
Untether yourself from cable
You know what’s old school? Cable. Most millennials know this and prefer to stream their entertainment via their devices. By all means keep your big TV, but get wise to the ways in which you can use it to view your favorite shows and movies without paying for an increasingly obsolete cable package. This is just one way to Cut $10,000 From Your Annual Expenses!
Retire your plastic
We can get through most of the week without ever handling folding money these days. Using credit and debit cards is too easy. Go plastic-less for a week and see if the sight of cash flying out of your wallet will put the brakes on how much you’re willing to spend on discretionary items. Research suggests that it might.
Make holiday plans now
This article is about having more wealth by the holidays, but the holidays can be a huge expenditure in themselves. One way to bring those costs down is to start making travel arrangements if you’re planning on spending the yule with family and friends in distant places. Start looking at airfares well before the weather gets frosty, and you’ll be able to lock in cheaper tickets before things get too crazy. While you’re planning ahead, check off these 6 Money Moves to Make Now!
Think before you gift
You’re wasting your money on gifts when you aren’t sure what the recipient really wants. If you think it’s gauche just to come out and ask them, opt instead for all-purpose gift cards, such as an American Express or Visa gift card, rather than something store-specific.
Set a holiday budget
Think about everything you’ll be doing over the holidays. Set a budget for gifts, travel, socializing, home decor and more. If you can see the potential waste, you can avoid it. You’ll end up feeling more like the Ghost of Christmas Present rather than a budgetary Tiny Tim. Make the process easier with these 6 Best Personal Finance Apps for 2016!
Smart gift-buying is about timing
Although Black Friday is synonymous with deals, not everything goes on sale the day after Thanksgiving. In fact, you’ll find the best prices on toys and name-brand TVs in December. You’ll also find more clothing deals at online retailers on Cyber Monday (the Monday after Thanksgiving). This is according to dealnews.com, which tracks deals.
Break up with your bank
Banks are, ahem, banking that you won’t scour your statements. That’s what gives them the cojones to sneak in small fees that add up to significant amounts of money over time. What do you get for those fees? Not much. Look into starting an account with a credit union. You’ll save hundreds of dollars per year.
Inflate your tires properly
Tires that aren’t optimally inflated are a drag in terms of physics and finances. The Department of Transportation estimates that 5 million gallons of fuel are wasted per day because of low tire pressure. Additionally, under-inflated tires mean you’ll have to buy a new set once the treads are worn. Look at your car’s manual and take an extra few minutes every week or so to ensure your wheels are good. The money you save over a few months may leave you feeling pumped for holiday travel.
Compare prices online
If there’s an item you crave, chances are that someone is trying to offload that same thing for much cheaper. Earlier we talked about postponing big-ticket items. Use that time out to poke around on the internet and see if that thing you want, new or used, is being sold elsewhere for pennies on the dollar.
Be strict about your health
Nothing can cut into your pile like an unexpected medical or dental bill. Be strict with yourself about visiting your doctor or dentists for regular checkups. Nobody wants a new crown for Christmas or Chanukah, especially when it comes at the expense of buying a gift for someone you love. For more ideas on how to preserve your health and wealth, check out these 100 Ways to Live to 100!
Carry a handsome water cup
Thirsty? Everyone is happy to sell you a bottle of water for a couple of bucks. Over a few months, those bottles of water are really going to add up. Think about that price tag as a penalty for not remembering this fundamental fact: We need to drink water! Find a handsome container and fill it with good, cold tap H2O whenever you get the chance.
Make eBay work for you
A memory foam mattress? An old guitar amplifier? Chances are, you’ve got something lying around your house that someone would be more than happy to give you money for. Do an audit of the valuable things in your home that you’re not getting the value out of, and sell it all to the highest bidder.
It really does pay to get your financial house in order, even over a period of four or five months. Lost bills and receipts, forgotten tax deductions, and less-than-mindful spending can cost you hundreds — even thousands — of dollars each year. Set up automatic bill payment online to eliminate late fees. Then organize important receipts, insurance policies, tax documents and other statements. Keep them somewhere that’s both safe and easy to access. When you’ve done all that, use free budgeting software such as mint.com to see exactly where your money goes. That’ll make it much harder for you to lose track of it. It’s just one of our 6 Favorite Personal Finance Apps!