Since it’s the start of the second half of the year, July is a great time to do a financial mid-year checkup. Even if you’ve dropped the ball on some other classic New Years Resolutions, right now is when you can resolve to keep going on your financial goals.
And since we’re talking about financial goals that will hopefully lead to financial freedom, we wanted to talk about some “financial fireworks” you can light this fourth of July. As we celebrate freedom more generally, these are four habits you can start “burning” to get to your goal of financial independence more quickly.
These are small-sounding habits, but over time, they can explode your debt and savings, putting you much closer to your goal of financial freedom.
Table of Contents:
1. Light a Match to Your Debt
Debt is absolutely going to be the biggest killer of your journey towards financial freedom. That’s especially true if you’re in high-interest debt in the form of credit cards or personal loans. But any kind of debt, except for arguably mortgage debt with a very low interest rate, is definitely going to hold you back on your goals.
So if you haven’t been working on it already, now is the time to light a match to your debt. This looks like getting a plan to pay off your debt and starting to make regular extra payments towards that debt. Even if you can only do an extra $20 per month right now, that’s going to get you out of debt more quickly than making the minimum payments on all of your various debts.
You may also want to look into transferring your debt to a 0% balance transfer credit card. This is great if you know you can get rid of your debt within a year or so which is about how long the 0% interest rate usually lasts. Take a look at our list of best balance transfer credit cards here.
2. Accelerate with a Side Gig
Whether or not you currently spend less than you make, adding a side gig is an excellent way to accelerate your journey towards financial freedom. For me, this side gig is what you’re looking at. Writing has always been a passion of mine, and it’s still a great way to make some extra money on the side while I continue to work full-time.
And the good news is that you don’t have to totally burn yourself out working around the clock, either. A side gig can take as little time as a few hours a month. And if you can use your side gig to do something you enjoy doing but maybe don’t get to do as part of your day job, even better. Assuming you stumbled across this article while surfing the web, you’re already doing something that you could be earning money for! Sites like Swagbucks offer rewards, discounts, and even cash back for online activities you likely already do including shopping, watching videos, filling out surveys, even simply searching for content. You can learn more about Swagbucks here in our review.
There are a couple of keys to making this work. One is to be sure that you choose a side gig you don’t hate. You don’t have to be completely passionate about it all the time. Every job has some downsides, of course. But if you can sustain your interest in your side gig, it’ll be easier to find the time to do it. So whether it’s writing because you enjoy it or mowing lawns because it’s a good form of exercise, find some non-financial good in the side gig you choose. Need some inspiration? Check out Fiverr. There you can browse categories and see what services others are offering to decide if you want to join in and earn a few fivers or more!
The other key is to make sure your side gig money, outside of what the government requires you to pay in taxes, goes straight towards your financial goals. If you’re still in debt besides your mortgage, you should most likely put your money towards that debt. And if you’re out of debt and ready to start saving hardcore, the money can go towards your savings goals.
Related: 32 Apps That Can Make You Money
3. Blow Up Your Goals with Automation
One of the best tools to come to humankind in recent years, I think, is automation. Being able to automate simple tasks and payments is an amazing way to save time and brain power. And when it comes to financial freedom, automation is a great way to stay on track.
Not sure what that might look like for you? Here are some ideas:
- Pay yourself first, automatically. You’ve probably heard the old adage to pay yourself first. It’s an important principle in finance. This means that before you spend money on today’s needs, you save for tomorrow’s goals. In practical terms, this means setting up automatic bank transfers on payday to move money to your savings account. Whatever savings goal you’re currently working on, this can be a great strategy to ensure you save before spending.
- Use round-up apps. Your grandparents probably used to have a change jar where they’d toss their spare change each day. You may almost never use cash. But you can still save the change virtually with round-up apps. Some like Qapital let you save the change for your goals, while others like Acorns let you invest your spare change easily. These are set-it-and-forget-it apps that are super handy to use.
- Pay your bills automatically. One problem with letting money sit in your checking account is that it may look like you have more money than you actually do. Paying your bills as you get paid, automatically, can solve the problem of forgetting to account for future withdrawals that need to be made from your account.
Again, automations like these are simple to set up and may not seem like a big deal. But over the course of a year, you could literally pay off hundreds of dollars in debt just by using a simple round-up app. Or you could save tons more money because money is automatically going to your savings account instead of your checking account on payday.
4. Plan the Show With Solid Goals
Finally, be sure that you have a plan for these financial fireworks so that you can hold yourself accountable. This might look like figuring out your best debt repayment strategy or a deep dive into retirement planning and goal setting. If you already have these goals in place, now is an ideal time of year to check in to see how you’re doing. An easy way to do this is with a retirement calculator. Weathfront offers Path– a tool that will analyze your financial situation and determine how much money you may have when you reach retirement plus, suggest strategies to help you reach your goals.
The key here is always to make sure your goals are personalized to your situation. Just because some people aim to be able to quit working at 50 doesn’t mean you have to. Maybe you want to enjoy life a little more now but be able to have the freedom to take a job you love rather than one that pays really well. That’s also a great goal.
Ultimately, financial freedom is what it looks like for you–your own pursuit of happiness, if we want to borrow the words of the Declaration of Independence.