Living Single and Maximizing Money

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Single and not sorry — that’s how you live.

Sure, couples get a dual income, tax breaks and somebody else to blame when household finances take a downturn. But they fight over the remote, too. So, ya know, plusses and minuses.

Being single is not the exception these days. The gap between plus-one and plus-none has narrowed ever since the first time TVs with antennas were a thing (yes, over-the-air TV is making something of a comeback). It’s practically a 50/50 split between Americans who are married (135.9 million) and those who never married, are widowed or are divorced (130.3 million), according to a 2022 U.S. Census Bureau document.

Here are six things you can do to maximize your money when it’s your world and everybody else is just living in it.

Work with a BFF

Your friends and family can impact your financial life in so many ways. It can be a good idea to enlist someone close to you to be your BFF: best financial friend. See if they are also motivated to significantly improve their money situation, then think through ways you can help — and even inspire — each other.

Like anything: shopping, sports or working out, having a friend involved can make it more fun and help you keep each other honest and accountable. Some ideas to try:

  • Share your financial goals. Maybe it’s paying down a credit card or spending less when shopping.
  • Exchange resources, like books, online tools, websites and podcasts.
  • Be honest about your money worries. You’ll likely have many of the same concerns in common.
  • Offer each other support when times are tough.
  • Cheer successes. It’s fun to share good news along the way.

Start living more in the moment

Your social circle can also join in an effort to start living better. During lean financial times, it’s easy to fall into a “one day” outlook on life. “One day, I’ll be happier when I have more money.” Or do “more fun things” or “travel more.”

Live for today but within your financial means. Urge yourself to be happier, healthier and more in the moment, even when money may be tight.

Reduce your tax burden

Married or single, people naturally want to pay less in taxes. The strategies to do so are basically the same.

“One way that you can make sure that you reduce your taxable burden is by contributing to a deductible IRA if you are eligible to do so,” said Rose Niang, the director of financial planning for Edelman Financial Engines, in a recent podcast.

However, a Roth IRA may offer longer-term tax benefits without the upfront deduction, so talk to a tax advisor to help determine which is right for you.

Beyond a regular or Roth IRA, a health savings account is another tax-advantaged option.

“The money going into your HSA account is not taxable. And then, when you pull it out to pay for qualified medical expenses, it’s not taxable, but the earnings in there also aren’t taxable,” Niang said. “So it’s a really good way to reduce your tax burden and have that health care emergency account that you can use if things were to go sideways.”

Your health plan has to have a high deductible in order to use an HSA, so that’s another good topic to address with an advisor.

Keep it simple

Managing money when you’re on your own doesn’t have to be complicated. Don’t force yourself to keep extensive records or track every penny if it’s not in your nature. Establish money habits that are easy to maintain.

That could take several forms:

  • You might decide to simply “pay yourself first” by setting aside a portion of your earnings for savings and debt repayment.
  • You could use an expense tracker app to keep an eye on spending.
  • Consider automatic money transfers for savings and paying bills.

Know the score

A commonly cited management cliche is, “You can’t improve what you don’t measure.” While it brings me clammy flashbacks to corporate culture, it’s relevant to one important personal finance metric: your credit score.

Knowing what it is and learning how to build your credit score is one way to improve your financial situation — not by taking on more debt, but by getting lower interest rates on the debt you already have or will take on in the future.

Find out your credit score. Keep an eye on it.

Aim for debt-zero

Which is a pretty slick transition to the next living-single money tip: reduce your debt. It’s easy to let it swell over time into this giant drain on your net worth. Trim the debt fat little by little. Get some momentum going. Try paying down a credit card twice a month.

When you hit the debt-zero target, resolve to charge only what you can pay off each month. Sure, there will be exceptions, such as putting travel expenses or other major purchases on a card to gain points and a little payback freedom. But your ongoing goal should be to remain mostly debt-free, not counting your mortgage and car loan.

That alone will make your single life even sweeter.

Hal M. Bundrick, CFP® writes for NerdWallet.

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How Pay Transparency May Affect Your Job Search or Next Raise

Knowing if you’re being paid fairly for the work you do is a mystery shrouded in a lack of information. That may be changing, though, and pay transparency may be the catalyst. It’s a growing trend for companies to reveal what a job opening or current position pays — whether voluntarily, or because governments mandate it.

Navigating salary ranges

So far, about a dozen states and municipalities have mandated access to salary information, including California, Colorado, Washington and New York City. Companies in the jurisdictions are generally required to post salary ranges indicating the minimum and maximum pay. Rules vary: Sometimes only job applicants must be told, while other times current employees can also request information about their pay range.

Roberta Matuson, president of Matuson Consulting in Boston, consults with companies looking for top-tier talent. She believes pay transparency “is a step in the right direction.”

“Knowledge is power. So, you know, if you have no idea that you can possibly earn more money, then you wouldn’t even ask for it,” Matuson says.

Is this the end of salary negotiation?

Pay transparency won’t eliminate salary negotiation, says Lexi Clarke, vice president of people at Payscale, a national provider of compensation data and services. Instead, Clarke says it will encourage discussions of current and future pay expectations.

It will help employees and candidates “understand what their expectations should be, and where [salary] boundaries are and where there might be flexibility. It levels the playing field between employers and candidates to have a more open and transparent conversation,” she says.

And Lulu Seikaly, a senior corporate attorney with Payscale, notes that as current laws stand, employers aren’t prevented from offering pay higher than a range that is posted for a position, as long as the company can provide objective reasoning for the exception.

In the past, companies would often base salary offers on what an individual earned in their previous jobs, Seikaly says. “A lot of states have banned that now.”

If a potential employer asks for your salary history, Matuson says, “I wouldn’t refuse to answer; I would say, ‘Well, tell me what you’re offering for this position.’ I would just turn the question around.”

Will pay gaps be eliminated?

Pay transparency reveals salary ranges, but does it narrow gender and ethnicity pay gaps? It may be too early to tell.

However, Payscale’s Clarke says that organizations that are more open about salaries often have a well-defined compensation structure and are less likely to have pay inequities.

She predicts how the gender pay gap might narrow: “Women’s salaries will increase to where they should be — some overpaid men’s salaries may slightly decrease, to be more in line with where they should be.”

What if you’re at the low end of the range?

If you find out you’re at the lower end of a salary band, Clarke says pay transparency will help you communicate with an employer about what you think you deserve, “And you’re anchoring that all into data, which is really powerful,” she adds.

Matuson says to ask your employer how you can add more value and what skills you need to increase your pay and opportunities for promotion.

And it’s not just about money, she adds.

“There are other things that you could ask for,” Matuson says. “For example, you could say, ‘It would help me if I could work from home two days a week so that I’m not spending $50 or more a week on gas. Would that be suitable?’”

And if you’re at the top of the pay scale?

What if you find out you’re at the top of your job’s pay band? One result could be pay compression at the top of a pay scale, with the highest-paid workers facing increasing resistance about salary hikes. Should you worry that you’re maxed out and might be among the first employees to be cut if layoffs happen?

“Well, I think you should always be thinking, ‘I might be cut,’” Matuson says. But she adds that even if you’re not actively looking for a job, call a few headhunters to determine pay scales for your current work and potential opportunities.

If you’re trying to determine a suitable salary for where you are in your career, several websites offer tools that help you see a relevant range of pay. Check out Payscale, Indeed, Glassdoor and for such tools.

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6 Steps to Higher Net Worth: A Year-End Financial Checklist

If you want to build momentum for your New Year’s money resolutions, set some financial improvements into motion before the end of the year.

Here are six easy-to-implement steps to help boost your net worth going into the new year.

1. Mind your health insurance deductibles

End-of-the-year financial planning strategies aren’t always this well-timed: “My son’s birthday is December 29th. His due date was actually January 2nd,” says Stacia Williams. “I begged my OB/GYN to go ahead and induce me.”

She knew her due date was close enough that the doctor could be flexible. And she also knew her insurance deductible would reset on Jan. 1, meaning she’d have to pay out of pocket as she began meeting the new year’s deductible.

“That saved us a ton of money,” Williams says. “He was my least expensive child!”

Williams is a founder of and a wealth advisor with the Williams Financial Group in Kansas City, Missouri, so she knows about such things. Suppose you’ve met your annual deductible or are close. In that case, you might want to schedule expensive medical procedures before the beginning of the new year, when your deductible resets and your out-of-pocket expenses could be much higher.

2. Use or lose your FSA balance

Being smart about your money often begins with employer-sponsored retirement, insurance and health benefit programs, says Marc Scudillo, a CPA and certified financial planner with EisnerAmper Wealth Management in Iselin, New Jersey.

He says many early-career workers have high-deductible health insurance plans combined with some type of tax-advantaged health savings account, such as a flexible spending account.

Many of these employer-sponsored health savings accounts are “use it or lose it,” Scudillo says. If there’s a balance still in the account by year-end, you may forfeit it. Some accounts have grace periods of a couple of months or so, and some allow you to roll over at least a portion, if not all, of the balance into the new year.

Either way, you’ll want to review that balance and your options before you end up having neither.

3. Plan holiday spending

Williams says budgeting for holiday expenses is a must so that you are confident you’re spending disposable income and not dipping into money needed to cover the necessities. That can be as sophisticated or simple as you’re comfortable with — from a spreadsheet to an app that helps track your spending.

She is also a fan of cash-back rewards and interest-free credit card promotions to help pay for holiday expenses (“it’s almost like layaway”). Just be sure to calculate the payment that will be due so that you’re confident you can pay off the balance before the interest-free period ends. And keep an eye on your credit limits; having more than 30% of a card’s limit in use can start to hurt your credit score. But your score will rebound as you pay down the balance.

Williams recommends holiday savings accounts when planning for next year. Some financial institutions offer incentives to open such accounts.

“That way, next year, your holiday budget is pretty much already set, and you can add to or take away from that,” she says. While these savings accounts don’t pay much in interest, it’s simply an automatic way to fund your holiday spending ahead of time.

4. Prepare now for tax time

“I always make my CPA earn her keep,” Williams says. She does that by having her tax advisor send her a list of receipts and documents to gather that will be needed for her particular tax situation.

She also suggests using an app to scan and organize receipts rather than stuffing them into an envelope or a box. It makes the gathering process “manageable and easy.”

Gig economy earners should also be aware of tax breaks and write-offs that they qualify for, Scudillo says — and have the receipts to back them up.

5. Monitor your credit

Monitoring your credit history and score is especially important this time of the year when fraud often seems to be on the uptick.

“You can be proactive by downloading a free credit tracking app,” Williams says. She says any errors or discrepancies should be reported to the credit bureaus.

6. Keep your life-after-work goals in mind

Check retirement plan limits and see if you can kick your contributions up a notch or two.

“One year-end review that we often see with younger professionals is that they get a bump in their compensation over the course of the year — but did they also bump up their savings?” Scudillo asks.

He suggests seeing if your employer offers an automatic annual deferral increase to its 401(k). Often called an automatic escalation feature, this lets you increase your employee contribution by a set amount each year, for example, 1% annually.

“We highly recommend that because it takes away that human inertia that people fall into,” Scudillo says. We often “delay, procrastinate or forget” to increase savings as our earnings grow.

“I think a lot of times we don’t ask enough questions,” Williams says. She says people barely like looking at their retirement account statements, let alone calling and asking questions about how to invest. If your employer offers a 401(k) plan, the investment company that sponsors the plan can be an excellent — and free — source of advice.

Scudillo has one final tip: If you don’t have financial goals, set them.

“If we had a certain targeted amount that we wanted to save over the course of the year, review: Did we get there? And if not, why not?”

How to Protect Your Spending Power From Inflation

Inflation — the rise in consumer prices — is a slow erosion of your money over time. Before 2021, the United States hadn’t seen annual core inflation much above 3% for the better part of 25 years, says Michael Ashton, managing principal of Enduring Investments, a consulting and investing firm in Morristown, New Jersey.

So the 7.5% spike seen over the past year in the costs of fuel, used vehicles, groceries and just about everything else is the kind of sudden and systemic rise that can give a jolt to most peoples’ everyday spending.

Ashton also says that the COVID-19 pandemic stimulus checks and tax relief, combined with the reopening of the economy, fed consumer demand but didn’t replace product inventories. The result: shortages that lead to higher prices.

“Having supply chain difficulties is part of what inflation looks like,” Ashton says.

With inflation chipping away at your spending power, how can you protect yourself?

Examine your spending

  • Trim discretionary spending, voluntary spending in categories like entertainment or travel, by just 5%. This is one of those incremental changes that isn’t that difficult to do and goes directly to your personal bottom line.
  • Don’t delay a major purchase; prices will likely rise.
  • Shop strategically. Buy more generic brand products and prescriptions. Save on necessary expenses by using coupons and store loyalty programs. Use membership cards (like Walmart+ and others) to pay 5 cents less per gallon for gasoline.

Look for savings

  • Eliminate any fees you pay for credit cards or bank accounts (late fees, monthly or annual service fees, ATM fees, etc.). Many banks are waiving such fees and credit cards often have fee-free options.
  • Renegotiate bills like cable, streaming or cell phone for any possible savings.  “I can say from my own personal experience – it’s amazing how easy this is,” Ashton notes. He says that every time he would call his cell phone provider, it would offer him a plan that was far better than his current one. “And it doesn’t happen unless you call,” Ashton adds. He now makes a habit of calling once a year and asking, “What’s the best plan you have and should I be on that?”
  • Reduce the number of subscriptions you have, even if by just one. “You should do an audit of those from time to time because sometimes they sneak in a price increase, and it just shows up on your credit card,” Ashton says.

Try to bring more money in

  • Search for financial institutions that pay higher interest rates than you are earning now (if you are earning anything at all). Online banks and credit unions often offer high-yield savings accounts that sweeten returns, especially as interest rates rise.
  • Perhaps the most powerful idea of all: Ask for a raise. If you haven’t received an increase in salary in a few years, you’ve likely experienced what amounts to a pay cut because of inflation, Ashton says.

The inflation-matching savings account

Another inflation-fighting idea: Series I savings bonds. They were created specifically to protect consumers’ purchasing power against inflation, says Zvi Bodie, professor emeritus in finance at Boston University. Bodie holds a doctorate in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has become an avid proponent of I bonds.

I bonds rates are keyed to the rate of inflation, which lately has been over 7%, he notes. They are a perfect safe haven for near-term savings. And not a bad addition to your long-term nest egg, too.

A minimum investment in I bonds through is only $25, and an individual can put up to $10,000 annually into the savings bonds with electronic purchases. The bonds pay fixed interest plus the inflation rate, adjusted twice per year.

You can withdraw your savings without penalty after one year, but if you cash them in before five years, you’ll lose the last three months’ worth of interest.

“So what you get is essentially a savings account that can’t go down, and that’s going to go up with inflation,” Bodie adds. “Do I need to say more?”

Inflation is not the same for everyone

Inflation hit a 7.5% national average in January, but that’s not likely to be your inflation rate, says Ashton.

You may consume different items than the average person and you may not live in an average place, so your particular rate of inflation quite likely varies from the average, according to Ashton.

So, rather than agonizing over a single number as a spending power loss to recoup, use the small money moves above to improve your financial position slowly but surely.

The article How to Protect Your Spending Power From Inflation originally appeared on NerdWallet.

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Don’t Just Pay Your Bills — Pay Attention

Forget the daily $5 latte as an already timeworn example of less than mindful spending. One financial advisor had a client spending some $3,000 a month on sushi — without realizing it. The advisor convinced his client to track a month’s worth of spending and both of them were surprised by the results.

Solution: a decision about how much the client wanted to spend on sushi. Whether $3,000 or something less, it would become a part of a financial plan.

If you’re looking to build a cash cushion, sock away some savings and get ahead of your bills, it’s not a matter of sacrificing the things you enjoy.

It’s about paying attention.

What does it cost to be you?

Before he discusses investing a single dollar, Joe Lum, a certified financial planner in San Ramon, California, steers the first conversation with a client by asking “What does it cost to be you on a monthly basis?”

Some people may feel that managing money with a budget seems like following a diet to lose weight — making sacrifices and restricting behavior.

“It’s almost punishing yourself,” Lum says, “but it really doesn’t have to be that way.”

Knowing what you spend, monitoring those expenses regularly and avoiding falling back into old habits are the keys, he adds.

“Most people create a budget, not knowing how they spend money,” says Adam Hagerman, a Maryland-based certified financial planner. He says food expenses are often the “most out of whack” based on pre-budget perceptions — “what they think they spend versus what they actually do. It can sometimes be several hundred dollars difference.”

Dining out and entertainment expenses can also be higher than anticipated before doing a spending reality check.

Planning for occasional, but essential, expenses

Anticipating nonemergency, but still necessary, occasional expenses and setting aside money in advance can help you avoid dipping into long-term savings, such as for retirement, or tapping funds dedicated to true emergencies.

“What sometimes gets people tripped up are those known but periodic expenses. Things like tires on your car,” Hagerman says. “Not an exciting purchase and not something you have to do every single month, but when it comes, if you haven’t saved up for it, it kind of derails a lot of people.”

Hagerman helps clients build such cash cushions by creating “monthly rollover categories” of essential expenses. While an amount is budgeted monthly, the outlays happen only as needed.

Mindful spending

Hagerman believes it’s essential to see what you’ve spent in the past 30 days.

To curb discretionary expenses  — those wants rather than needs — he suggests setting aside cash buckets.

However, rather than the old-fashioned envelopes of cash dedicated to one category of spending or another, Hagerman is intrigued by a service called Qube Money.

It is a debit card with a zero balance until you allocate specific amounts to common budget categories. You authorize purchases in advance to be pulled from a digital envelope, called a Qube, before using the card. He says it’s a mindful way to discipline your spending without worrying about overdrafts.

“You’ve got to go into the app to load the money onto your debit card to even be able to make a purchase. That’s the definition of proactive budgeting,” Hagerman says. He says he’s not an investor in the service, but thinks it might be helpful if the app lives up to its potential.

Other budgeting apps, such as PocketGuard, Mint and You Need a Budget, use different strategies to track spending.

‘Vote’ for expenses you want to keep

Lum says that one of the biggest ironies is that we are urged to automate investing and saving. But the same hands-off approach to spending, such as recurring bill pay services, ApplePay and online purchases, can cause you to be unaware of where all your money is going.

“We’ve made it easier and easier to part with your money,” Lum says. “You could go seasons and seasons of your life without ever noticing that you haven’t actually saved any money.”

He recommends temporarily turning off autopay services so that you can “vote” for the expenses you want to keep.

Lum says once you’ve paid yourself first, then accounted for fixed expenses, you’ll be free to spend as you please, rather than feeling guilty about every little thing you’re buying. The goal, he tells clients, is to:

  1. Save 40 cents of every take-home dollar.
  2. Pay the essentials.

The rest, Lum says, is for fun spending. “You can be free and feel good about that, knowing that you’ve taken care of one and two,” he says.

Hal M. Bundrick, CFP writes for NerdWallet. Email: Twitter: @halmbundrick.

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Better Savers Spend Less Money on These 3 Things

Reducing spending in three common budget categories may significantly boost your ability to save money. And a small mental trick could help you stick to an ongoing savings plan.

Those are the findings of two studies investigating the spending habits of better savers and the psychology of saving.

Here’s how to apply these habits to your own budget.

Moving from a ‘low’ saver to a ‘middle’ saver

Research conducted by the Employee Benefit Research Institute and J.P. Morgan Asset Management, published in June 2020, aimed to determine why some American adults save more than others, even when they have equivalent salaries.

For long-term employees, across age groups, the study showed that high savers save around 3% more than middle savers. And middle savers save about 3% more than low savers. Here’s how the researchers defined low, middle and high savers:

  • Low savers save about 2%-3% of their salary.
  • Middle savers save about 5%-6% of their salary.
  • High savers save about 9% of their salary, and more as they get older.

The difference is not a matter of income

It’s often believed that low savers save less because they simply don’t earn enough. However, in this study, middle savers and low savers have “very similar, if not the same salaries,” says Katherine Roy, chief retirement strategist for J.P. Morgan Funds and one of six authors of the study.

“So they’re earning the same, but it seems like the middle savers somehow are able to save 3% more than the low savers,” Roy adds.

And that 3% boost in savings “is huge,” she says. It could explain why the retirement plan balances of employees who are middle savers are almost twice as large as those of employees who are low savers.

Better savers spend less money in 3 categories

Where did low savers spend more of their money than middle savers? Three categories of expenditures, as a percentage of salary, rose to the top:

  • Housing, including a mortgage or rent, taxes, utilities, and home services and furnishings.
  • Food and beverage, including eating out and groceries.
  • Transportation, including the purchase of vehicles, gasoline, train tickets and so forth.
  • A high cost of living, such as having a home in New York or San Francisco, did not seem to be a factor in why low savers were spending more in these categories than middle savers, Roy says.

Travel was the only category where middle savers spent slightly more than low savers.

In every other category, the two groups spent very similarly. “That would include entertainment, apparel, education, charitable contributions, gifts — those types of things,” she adds.

How to gain a savings advantage

Considering your spending over a lifetime in just these three categories can impact your ability to save, Roy says.

In housing expenses, look for so-called subscription creep, where you’ve added several recurring autopay services that are drafted from your checking account each month. Streaming services are a frequent culprit here and can add up.

It’s likely you saved quite a bit in 2020 on expenses related to dining out and travel due to COVID-19 restrictions. Roy says spending in these areas that was typical pre-pandemic but has been on hiatus could offer continuing savings long after.

Use a mental trick to form a new savings habit

Once you’ve adjusted your spending and can dedicate more to savings, you might want to use a mental trick to form a new savings habit.

Hal Hershfield, associate professor at the UCLA Anderson School of Management, was one of three researchers in a study published in the journal Marketing Science in November 2020. The findings may help you set up a recurring savings plan, where money is automatically moved to a savings or investment account on a regular basis.

“We asked some people if they wanted to save $150 a month,” Hershfield says. “We asked another group of people if they wanted to save $35 a week. And we asked a third group if they wanted to save $5 a day.”

The result: Four times more people were likely to save money when the dollar amounts were presented as daily goals, rather than monthly.

“People think about the types of sacrifices they can afford to give up,” Hershfield says, and “five bucks a day feels a little easier.”

When a savings plan was framed as $150 a month, higher-income people were three times more likely than lower-income savers to participate. But when presented as $5 a day, there was no difference in participation between the two income groups.

The simple psychological shift seemed to close the savings gap between high-income and low-income savers.

This article was written by NerdWallet and was originally published by The Associated Press.

Hal M. Bundrick, CFP writes for NerdWallet. Email: Twitter: @halmbundrick.

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A Pandemic Shift in Finances: Simplifying and Saving

The pandemic has caused many people to reassess their priorities. There is talk of moving out of the city, simplifying life and saving more money.

“I’m not going to spend money like that anymore,” my millennial daughter told me recently, talking about past shopping sprees on handbags, jewelry, and yes, lattes. “Financial security is fun now.”

This from the same person who, until recently, has annually paid to upgrade to the latest version of smartphone ever since she purchased her first Juicy Couture Sidekick back in 2005.

But, as usual, my daughter alerted me to a growing trend.

Developing new financial goals

In an annual survey, consumer research firm The Family Room LLC identifies prevailing trends in more than 150 psychological drivers. Determining changing priorities from year to year helps identify emotional hot spots among different age groups.

The latest results show dramatic shifts in attitudes, the company says, including a 14% increase over the previous year’s survey among parents in “making my life simpler and less complicated.”

Changes are happening in the way people save, too. Among U.S. adults who say they developed new financial habits during the pandemic, 58% said they plan to continue cutting back spending on “wants” in 2021, according to a recent NerdWallet survey. Many (36%) plan to continue building up general savings, and 30% will continue stashing money in emergency savings.

Here are some ideas for simplifying your life and morphing your money habits from carefree to careful.

The gift of prioritization

Leo Babauta, 46, a writer in Southern California, is on a mission to help people “implement Zen habits in daily life.” He believes the pandemic has given us the gift of prioritization.

“When things are falling apart, it helps us realize what’s most important to us,” Babauta says. “This will help us to simplify our lives as we move forward because simplicity really boils down to two steps: Identify what is most important to you, and eliminate everything else.”

On Babauta’s blog at, he chronicles a long list of life changes through the years: quitting smoking, paying off debt, losing weight and taking control of his finances.

He stopped living paycheck to paycheck by addressing the things that turn us to bad financial habits in the first place: fear, anxiety and stress. Babauta says that the COVID outbreak has sparked him to be even more focused on “taking care of myself, meditating, walking and getting rest.”

“If we’re shopping too much, it’s because we’re stressed,” he says. “If we avoid budgeting, it’s because it causes us anxiety. Breaking the cycle is about choosing better habits to deal with that stress, like going for a walk or making a list, and then creating accountability and support to do the new habit every day, instead of the old habit.”

Tracking spending is essential

Simplifying life is a theme echoed by Richard Liu, 26, a marketing manager in Sydney.

“One of the ways I helped simplify my expenses is using a money tracking application. Since so many things are digital, making purchases online has been the norm, so being able to track spending is essential,” Liu says. He keeps tabs on his expenses, investments and net worth.

Like so many other COVID castaways, Liu says he is saving money on transportation due to less commuting — and on food by doing more of his own cooking. He also found ways to prepare for a post-pandemic financial rebound:

  1. Trim nonessential recurring expenses. These include things like monthly subscriptions and gym memberships. Make a list of them all. It’s possible you’ll find more than a couple you’ve either forgotten about or haven’t used in a while.
  2. Refinance existing debt while interest rates are low. A mortgage, student loans or personal loans are all candidates for rate improvements. Perhaps even your car loan.
  3. Shop for better deals on existing insurance policies. With people driving fewer miles, some vehicle insurance rates have fallen. Many insurers have even issued rebates to policyholders.

Liu says he’s combining these money-saving ideas with another important moneymaking component: He’s been taking on additional freelance work to help make extra cash.

“I think it’s never been so important to create side income or develop new streams of money. More money means more savings, but also stability,” he says. “This has been my main focus and priority and will continue to be.”

This article was written by NerdWallet and was originally published by The Associated Press.

Hal M. Bundrick, CFP writes for NerdWallet. Email: Twitter: @halmbundrick.

The article A Pandemic Shift in Finances: Simplifying and Saving originally appeared on NerdWallet.

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