I think new years resolutions are too random- why start losing weight on January 1. It’s such a random date. I suggested you start now– whenever you are reading this. Go ahead I’ll wait.
But there is one item that makes sense to start with January 1st- gain control of of your finances. January 1st is good because you know exactly when you started your tracking. You know how to gain control of your finances, but here’s a refresher:
- Figure out what you spend money on.
- Determine where you can save money (I called up my cell phone company and saved $32 a month by switching to a different plan and canceling phone insurance)
- Set up a budget- Save all you can
- Find ways to earn more
The hardest part of this is getting started. Do you know what you spend money on? I suggest you build a system (a machine) to make this automatic. Get your bank and credit cards to automatically update your data in a personal finance program like Quicken or Money or online at a site like Mint.
There will be some setup time but in the future you’ll be able to just click a couple of buttons and you’ll know exactly where you stand financially.
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One of the foundations of a Success Making Machine is setting up systems that work and let them run automated. For example, I have my utilities (gas, electric, phone) set up with automatic recurring payments. As long as charges are within range I need to take no action. But I make it a point to review my utilities periodically to make sure I’m still paying market prices. Here’s my successful recent “system review”. I’ve had equivalent success with reducing auto insurance (50%), gas(5%) and other utilities.
Here’s my latest story. My internet/cable/phone (triple play) company sent me a notice that they were increasing their price by $15 a month. That was the last straw- their fees were inching up monthly and I was being bombarded with ads from their competition that their prices were lower.
Try to work it out
First I called my old company to see if they had a better (or at least equivilant) deal. This has been a helpful strategy in the past. It’s worth it for me to keep the old company even if they just match the deal because I’ll save the headache of switching. They couldn’t do better than the new deal- but still offered me something better than what I currently had. I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t be missing something- so I asked. They admitted that the new deal was superior. With a superior deal and without any loss of features I knew it was time to switch.
In with the New
I called the ad to make sure it was legit. It was. As I was deciding which package to get the company rep offered me better and better deals. I ended up with a free DVR, an extra install line and some more free channels- all for a lower price than I previously paid (before the increase).
Out with the old
After the new service was successfully installed I called to cancel the old one (I don’t cancel in advance in case something goes wrong). Interestingly, the “customer retention rep” who took my cancellation was prepared to offer me some good deals not offered elsewhere- I didn’t pursue the conversation because after installation it’s not worth it for me to switch again. An addition lesson here is talk to numerous people in the same company.
Next Action: Try this with your utilities. They should be reviewed annualy. Let me know how much you save.
photo credit: whiteafrican