4 ways to improve your finances in a month

Jessica MoorhouseOpens in new window is an award-winning personal finance blogger, speaker and host of the popular Mo’ Money Podcast, who promotes financial literacy and living a balanced lifestyle. She’s a fan of online tools and services like Sonnet that empower us to take control of our finances.

Let me guess, time and time again you find yourself complaining about how you wish you had your financial stuff together, and yet time and time again you keep doing the same thing. You do know that doing the same thing and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity, right?

I’m calling you out. Enough complaining, it’s time to take action right now. You know why? Because if you don’t take this moment right now to improve your finances, five years will whip by and you’ll be kicking yourself for not doing something sooner.

You may not think that a lot can be done in only one month, but the good news is you can actually get a ton done in only four weeks. And to prove it to you, here are four things you can do starting today to get your finances back on track.

1. Do a spending cleanse

You’ll be happy to know that this cleanse does not require you to live off lemon water and cayenne pepper. A spending cleanse is much less scary and way more beneficial to your financial health. In a sense, it’s a way to hit the reset button on your finances, and it really doesn’t require you to do much of anything. Actually, the less you do the better!

All a spending cleanse entails is for you to stop spending your hard-earned money on all those purchases that are more wants than needs. Try doing this for a month or two, and you’ll see fairly quickly that you’ll not just have more money in your bank account, but your quality of life will stay exactly the same without that daily $8 organic juice or weekly mani/pedi.

2. Try out a cash diet

If you really need some help curbing your spending, a cash diet is a great strategy to try out. Now, don’t be put off by the name, you don’t necessarily have to live off cash alone (though that is one way to do it).

To do it the old-school way, take out the exact amount of cash you’ve budgeted for your variable spending (such as groceries, entertainment, alcohol, take-out, etc…), divide that cash into categorized envelopes, then only spend what you have until you run out. When you run out, well hopefully it’s the end of the month and you’re about to replenish your envelopes. If not, I hope you don’t mind staying home on the weekend and eating soup and beans from your pantry for dinner.

Another way to do it if you prefer to use debit or credit is to input every single purchase into a spreadsheet or app so you have real-time data on how much money you have left for the month. This will actually require a little bit more work and diligence on your part, but if you don’t trust yourself with cash, it’s a good way to go.

3. Switch banks to save on fees

Are you with your current bank because it’s just the one you’ve always been with? Well, that’s not a good enough reason to stick with it. There are so many online banks and credit unions these days that offer most of what the big banks offer with lower or no banking fees. And you may not think that paying $10/month for your chequing account is a big deal, but multiply that by five years and you just spent $600 on fees when you could have saved that money and earned interest on it instead.

4. Review what you’re paying for insurance

Last but not least, right now is always a good time to review what you’re paying for insurance and make sure you have the right coverage. You wouldn’t believe the savings you could experience by shopping around for a better rate, bundling your home and auto insurance, and adjusting your deductible to lower your premiums. I’m talking thousands of dollars here! You should only increase your deductible if you could comfortably afford it in the event of a claim. Make sure that emergency fund is topped up before making any changes!

Luckily, Sonnet allows you to get a quote and buy online in just minutes and you can customize your policy to your needs. Seriously, it took me less than 5 minutes to get a new quote for my home and auto insurance.

It’s that easy! Even just focusing on one of these steps each week will put you on your way to better financial health after one month.

Jessica Moorhouse is a paid spokesperson for Sonnet.