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13 Surefire Ways To Improve Your Finances in 2024


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Do you want to improve your finances this year and become better at managing your money? 

In this article, I’ll show you how to do so with the 13 easy step-by-step personal finance tips, starting with setting a clear goal, creating a budget and paying OFF high-interest debt. 

How To Improve Your Finances This Year

Steps to Improve Finance This YearBrief Explanation
#1Set Clear Financial GoalsWhat is it you want to achieve financially this year? Apply the SMART acronym to your financial goals.
#2Create a BudgetWhile creating a financial goal is great, you won’t accomplish anything if you do not have money left at the end of each month.
#3Pay Off High-Interest DebtTo get yourself back on a sound financial footing, you need to pay off high-interest debt, i.e. credit card debt.
#4Diversify Your Income SourcesThe extra cash you earn from side hustles effectively improves your ability to pay off debt, save/invest for retirement, and achieve financial independence.
#5Earn Cash Back On Your PurchasesWith free apps offering as high as 30% cash back opportunities, you could leave a significant amount of money on the table if you don’t use them. 
#6Cut Your ExpensesTo do so, negotiate your bills, eat out less, cancel unwanted subscriptions and automate your bill payments. 
#7Automate Your SavingsThis ensures you meet your savings goals, even during months when you forget to set aside money. 
#8Start InvestingTime is money when it comes to building a great investment portfolio.
#9Improve Your Credit ScoreAn excellent credit rating means you qualify for credit at competitive interest rates, thus saving you money.
#10Try DIYTry doing things you typically pay someone else to do yourself to save money. 
#11Educate Yourself
Increase your knowledge and improve your skills by continuously reading and learning. 
#12Declutter Your HouseSell unused things to have more room to breathe and earn extra cash.
#13Stop Living To Impress OthersDo not spend money to buy things you don’t need to impress your neighbours or your friends.

To improve your life, you will need to improve your money management. Think about your financial troubles and how your life could be different if your financial problems could all just magically disappear!

While several years of poor financial decision-making will not go away in one day, when you start the year on the right track and stick to a good plan, your finances and life will turn around for the better.

These 13 personal finance tips are a great starting point for significantly improving your financial situation. Start by implementing four, five, six, or seven of them and watch your finances improve in ways you have never imagined possible.

1. Set Clear Financial Goals

What is it you want to achieve financially this year? Do you want to pay off debt? How much debt do you want to pay off, and by when? Your goals should be specific and time-bound! For example, 4 years ago, my wife and I set a 1-year goal to pay off $30,000 in car loans.

Your financial goals can be broken down into daily, weekly, monthly, semi-annual, annual, or even longer time-frame milestones. Define your short-, medium-, and long-term goals.

Depending on your level of discipline and the difficulty of what you plan to achieve, you may need to break some massive goals into smaller short-term goals so you can follow your progress and make it easier to stay on track.

Going back to the example above, we decided in late December to pay off $30,000 in car loans by the end of the next year. To make our goal even more specific, we planned to make at least an additional $2,000 in lump-sum payments every month.

Lump-sum payments: $2,000 x 12 months = $24,000

Regular monthly loan repayments: $500/month x 12 months = $6,000

Total payments in 2018 = $30,000 

Although there were months we could not put down $2,000 towards our car loans, knowing the minimum amount we needed to crush our debt was super helpful for staying on track. By the end of the year (2018), we paid off the entire $30K debt!

In summary, apply the SMART acronym to your financial goals. They should be:

S – Specific: What do I want to accomplish (e.g. pay off $30,000 in car loans), and when do I want to accomplish it (e.g. in 12 months)?

M – Measurable: How much do I need to put aside to reach my goals? Example – $2,000 lump-sum payments per month for 12 months.

A – Attainable: Is it possible for me to achieve this goal? How? This is up to you and whether you are willing to pay the price to attain your dreams or goals.

Example – You can save an additional $800 per month by cooking at home and packing your lunch, carpooling to work, cutting your hair, paying lower bank fees, cutting your utility bills, quitting smoking, and more.

You can also make an extra $500 per month by delivering food in your area, flipping items, tutoring online, using cash back apps, and more.

R – Realistic/Relevant: How important is achieving this goal to you? Why is it important to you? For example, so you can have more money to put towards your retirement savings.

T – Time-Bound (Timely): When will your goal be achieved? One, Two, Three months? 1 year? A long-term goal may consist of several shorter-term milestones to keep you on track.

2. Create a Budget

Budget: A mathematical confirmation of your suspicions. – A.A. Latimer

You need a budget to tell you where your money comes from and where it goes. While creating a financial goal is great, you won’t accomplish anything if you do not have money left at the end of each month.

Take a close look at your income and expenses to determine if you have enough money left at the end of the month. If you do not, it is time to cut your expenses and find ways to increase your income. For example, by starting a blog that makes money.

Free apps you can use for budgeting include Mint (U.S. and Canada) and KOHO (Canada). A paid alternative is YNAB.

3. Pay Off High-Interest Debt

To get yourself back on a sound financial footing, you need to pay off high-interest debt, i.e. credit card debt.

Plan to pay off your credit card obligations as soon as possible because every day that goes by on your outstanding balance (after the Grace Period has ended) means an increase in your debts.

Start by making an extra monthly payment – if you only make the minimum payments, your debts will stick around forever.

If you carry a large credit card balance, consider a low-interest balance-transfer card like the Scotiabank Value Visa Card (Canadians).

Low-interest credit cards relieve you from having the bulk of your payments go towards servicing interest payments instead of paying down your principal debt.

If you have student loans, consider refinancing at a lower interest rate to potentially save thousands of dollars.

If your credit profile has been trashed by poor financial decisions, a secured credit card could help you rebuild your credit. In Canada, you can check out these bad credit options.

Avoid payday loans by all means possible – you could be paying upwards of 600% in interest rate per year!

how to improve your financial life

4. Diversify Your Income Sources

In the “battle of the budget,” you can win by cutting your expenses, increasing your income, or doing both.

Let us take a look at some ways to increase your income. One option is to earn more at your current day job. You may be able to accomplish this by offering more at your job and negotiating a pay raise, or you may have to look for a better-paying job elsewhere.

Another option is to find alternative ways of supplementing your full-time salary with extra sources of income via a side hustle. There are so many ways to earn extra income in your spare time (and from your home), including:

A. Blog: Start a blog like the one you are reading and generate thousands of dollars every month. Click here for a step-by-step guide on how to start your money-making blog.

B. Proofreader: Earn a decent income each month by offering proofreading services. Check out this FREE 76-minute workshop to see how Caitlyn from proofreadanywhere.com makes a six-figure income from proofreading.

C. Drive: Put your car to work in the ride-sharing economy. By driving others around during your spare time, you can earn thousands of dollars every month. Alternatively, you can use your car to make deliveries through the DoorDash and Instacart platforms.

D. Pet Sitter: Play with pets or walk dogs and earn $1,000+ per month. Learn about Rover and pet-sitting gigs.

E. Rent out your spare room: Monetize your empty room by listing it on Airbnb and make some money. You get a free $1 million in liability coverage/protection.

F. Teach English Online: Teach kids in overseas countries how to speak English from the comfort of your home. This gig pays as much as $25/hour.

G. Sell Services: You can sell all kinds of services to others using platforms like: Freelancer, 99designs, Fiverr, and Upwork. Someone is looking for your skills, so go make some money.

The extra cash you earn from these side hustles effectively improves your ability to pay off debt, save/invest for retirement, and achieve financial independence.

Related: 13+ Legitimate Work From Home Jobs

improve finances today

5. Earn Cash Back On Your Purchases

You should aim to earn cash back whenever you purchase online or in-store.

And why not? All the popular cash back apps are free to use, and with offers as high as 30% in some cases, you could leave a significant amount of money on the table if you are not signed up.

My favourite cash back apps for grocery shopping include:

Regarding your general shopping online, the following apps will pay you for simply shopping!

In addition to cash back rewards, these free apps also pay you when you refer a friend.

6. Cut Your Expenses

In step #4, I touched on how to improve your financial life by increasing your income. Another important aspect of good money management is to cut your expenses. There are tonnes of ways to slash your monthly expenses and bills, including:

Negotiate your bills so you pay less. We were able to negotiate lower rates on our phone, cable, and internet bills and have saved 75% on this cost over the last two years.

While I have not found apps that automatically negotiate bill payments in Canada, some great options for U.S. residents include Trim Financial Manager and Paribus.

Eat out less: You can save thousands of dollars every year by making your own meals. If you are looking for easy, nutritious, and cheap meal options, try the $5 meal challenge

Comparison shop for everything: Shop around before making purchases to save money. You can shop around for a cheaper car, home, and life insurance. We saved about $300 in the last two years on homeowner’s insurance (with similar coverage) by shopping around.

Cut your water and energy bills by using water and electricity efficiently.

Cancel unwanted subscriptions – Gym, TV, magazines, and more.

Shop at a dollar store. Some items are just cheaper to buy at a dollar store.

Stop paying unnecessary banking and investment fees. Avoid the monthly bank charge by opening a free online bank account, e.g. EQ Bank, Simplii Financial, Tangerine Bank (Canada), or Ally and Schwab Bank (U.S.).

On the investing side of things, avoid high-fee mutual funds, and consider the low-fee ETFs used by robo-advisors.

Automate your bill payments to avoid late payment fees and damage to your credit score. Auto-paying your bills may also get you some discounts.

7. Automate Your Savings

It is easy to formulate a plan in your mind to save money this year. However, the reality is that most savings goals never really see the light of day.

It is no wonder that 69% of Americans have less than $1,000 in their savings account, and on the Canadian side, the situation is no different.

One strategy for ensuring you meet your savings goals is to automate it using the “automated savings plan” feature that is popular with most savings accounts today.

Automated savings mean that a specific amount of money leaves your chequing and is deposited into your savings account periodically.

Some of the popular automated savings apps available in Canada include Moka and Wealthsimple Roundup. In the U.S., you can use Acorns, Wealthsimple, and Empower.

Moka, Acorns, and Wealthsimple help you save/invest your spare change, so you do not radically have to change your lifestyle to start saving.

Your finances will greatly improve when you get into the habit of “paying yourself first.” At least 10% (more is better) of your income should go into a savings or investment account.

Related: 12 Best Financial Apps For Building Wealth

improve finances this year

8. Start Investing

The sooner you start investing, the better your chances of becoming financially free. Time is money when it comes to building a great investment portfolio.

Unless you are carrying credit card debt that needs to be paid off ASAP, you should be putting away money into an investment account regularly. Again, pay yourself first!

Max out your contributions to tax-free or tax-deferred registered accounts, such as TFSA, RRSP, 401(k), and IRA. If your employer offers a contributions match, maximize it, so you don’t leave money on the table.

Cut your investment fees by avoiding high MER mutual funds. High fees negatively impact your long-term returns.

It is important to note that more than 80% of fund managers do not outperform their benchmark index, so you are often better off buying into a passive index fund or ETF that can generate market returns.

When trillions of dollars are managed by Wall Streeters charging high fees, it will usually be the managers who reap outsized profits, not the clients. Both large and small investors should stick with low-cost index funds. – Warren Buffett

If you are a DIY investor, you can lower your trading costs by using a discount broker that offers commission-free ETFs, for example, Wealthsimple Trade or Questrade.

Simplify your investing. Not everyone is comfortable with managing their investment portfolio and rebalancing it as required.

If you want to save on fees and invest on autopilot while maximizing your returns, consider using the services of a robo-advisor.

Wealthsimple is a top robo-advisor in Canada, the U.S., and the U.K. Get a cash bonus when you open an account!

Using a robo-advisor for your investments may also save you from becoming a victim of your own behavioural biases.

9. Improve Your Credit Score

Monitor your credit score for free this year using Borrowell (Canada) or Credit Sesame (U.S.). Credit monitoring helps you to quickly detect identity theft, fraud, and errors that can significantly damage your credit profile.

An excellent credit rating means you qualify for credit at competitive interest rates, thus saving you money.

With Borrowell and Credit Sesame, you also get access to a free credit report that is updated monthly along with your score, and at no charge to you. Applying to check your free credit score takes less than 5 minutes, so it’s not a big hassle.

Click here for tips on how your credit score is calculated.

10. Try DIY

The internet has made it easier to find out how to do things yourself. You can visit Youtube or several other DIY websites for free tutorials, and start saving money. Some easy DIY tasks you can try today include:

Related: How To Clean, Strip, and Stain an Old Deck

11. Educate Yourself

An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. – Benjamin Franklin

Increase your knowledge and improve your skills by continuously reading and learning. Investing in yourself is one of the most important investments you will ever make.

Through education, you may be able to: increase your income-earning ability, increase your capacity to provide solutions to real-life problems, broaden your general understanding and thinking ability, and feel fulfilled and satisfied with your life.

In the area of finances, there are many personal finance books you can read this year to increase your understanding of investing, debt management, budgeting, and more, including:

I Will Teach You How To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi: A six-week program that shows millennials (20- to 35-year-olds) how to master their money easily.

The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey: This book shows you how to beat crushing debt!

The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach: This is a clear guide on how to build wealth and financial freedom on any income.

The Little Book of Common Sense Investing by John Bogle: Written by the father of index investing, the book gives you insight into how simplified investing pays best.

The Richest Man in Babylon by George Clason: See how ancient financial truths still hold sway in today’s world.

Money Habits that will boost your Finances

12. Declutter Your House

Organizing your home and getting rid of things you do not need will not only help you have more room to breathe fresher air, but it can also fatten your wallet.

Sell unused/not needed items using your local online marketplaces, Craigslist, Kijiji, Amazon, eBay, etc.

Remember not to make purchases on impulse. When you have the urge to buy things, give yourself some days to mull it over and be certain it is really necessary.

Consider getting rid of one thing for every other item you buy.

Focus on quality over quantity. Why buy five variations of one thing if one quality well-made version can serve you just as well?

Cancel unused subscriptions.

In the spirit of decluttering, also:

  • Organize your investment/banking accounts and avoid having them spread all over the place – consolidate them wherever it makes sense.
  • Learn to say “No” to relationships that are not healthy or beneficial to you. Cut ties that are detrimental to your physical, mental, and financial health.

13. Stop Living To Impress Others

I shall be telling this with a sigh somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I… I took the one less traveled by, And that made all the difference. – Robert Frost

It is inbuilt into human nature to desire the affirmations of others. We yearn for it more than we are willing to admit. However, if you are going to better your life financially, you must be willing to “walk your own walk.”

Do not spend money you don’t have to buy things you don’t need to impress your neighbours or your friends.

The reality is that many people dig themselves into debt holes simply because they are unwilling to dare to be different…to be real.

Americanism: Using money you haven’t earned to buy things you don’t need to impress people you don’t like. – Robert Quillen

This year, impress yourself by setting financial goals, creating a budget, and accomplishing your goals.

Wrapping Up

These 13 tips will help you improve your finances today. To summarize:

  1. Start by creating financial goals that are challenging enough to get you on the road to financial freedom. Your goals should be S.M.A.R.T.
  2. Follow up with a budget that is detailed and clarifies where your money comes from and where it goes.
  3. Work on increasing your income and cutting your expenses
  4. Believe in yourself and accept responsibility for your failures and successes.
  5. Be a continuous learner and be determined to chart your own course.
  6. Don’t count on luck and when you do, remember that “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity” – Seneca.

Do you have any more tips you are planning to implement this year to improve your finances? Drop them in the comments below!

14 Ways to improve your finances right now! These personal finance tips will show you how to budget, spend smartly, save money, pay off debt, invest, and manage your money. You can become financially-free today. Click to start now and PIN for later. #financialplanning #finances #debtfree #personalfinancetips

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Gravatar for Enoch Omololu, MSc (Econ)
Enoch Omololu, MSc (Econ)

Enoch Omololu, personal finance expert, author, and founder of Savvy New Canadians, has written about money matters for over 10 years. Enoch has an MSc (Econ) degree in Finance and Investment Management from the University of Aberdeen Business School and has completed the Canadian Securities Course. His expertise has been highlighted in major publications like Forbes, Globe and Mail, Business Insider, CBC News, Toronto Star, Financial Post, CTV News, TD Direct Investing, Canadian Securities Exchange, and many others. Enoch is passionate about helping others win with their finances and recently created a practical investing course for beginners. You can read his full author bio.

About Savvy New Canadians

Savvy New Canadians is one of Canada's top personal finance platforms. Millions of Canadians use our site each year to learn how to save for retirement, invest smartly, maximize rewards, and earn extra cash. We have been featured in prominent finance media, including Forbes, Globe and Mail, Business Insider, CBC, MSN, Wealthsimple, and TD Direct Investing. Learn more about Savvy New Canadians.

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8 thoughts on “13 Surefire Ways To Improve Your Finances in 2024”

  1. Gravatar for David the ghostwriter

    What a list, Enoch. I’ll pass on the surveys, but I could use some more stability.

    Unfortunately, this will be the year the first one goes off to college (no idea what magic hat that’ll come out of), and so we have no idea how much that will cost. Well, some idea. They’re all expensive, just different intensities of expensive.

    • Gravatar for Enoch Omololu

      @David: Yes, college costs keep going up. We are still some ways away from that, but it’s one of our concerns as well.

  2. Gravatar for Save Improve

    Good Article. Money is money. no matter huge or less. PTC and GPT sites would pay less but if one works on it consistently, it would also be another source of income

    • Gravatar for Enoch Omololu

      Thanks for your input.

  3. Gravatar for maria James

    Excellent guide on how to manage and improve your finances. I must say that its a comprehensive list and would like to add one thing. To achieve success in your financial goals simply follow guidelines of an experienced financial planner. A certified financial advisor will certainly provide you an actionable financial plan that can make your life a lot easier and financially stable. These experts know that when to invest, which insurance plan is right and how to enhance your retirement and business investments.

    • Gravatar for Enoch Omololu

      Good point!

  4. Gravatar for Rajesh Sharma

    Great ideas and tips for saving money on today’s date. I like the ideas of saving and start investing because I think that saving investing will really help us to live a better future after retirement. These are truly some of the best tips I have ever read. Thank you for sharing these great tips. Please do keep sharing.

  5. Gravatar for Sherin Rajan

    This article really makes sense. Thanks for sharing your ideas it is really helpful.

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