Stop Planning: 50 Ways to Improve Your Finances Today

I only have one resolution for 2008: action.

You can set all the right goals, have all the right intentions, and know all the right stuff, but if you don’t act, none of it means anything. I learned that when I was a teenager, and it’s the only resolution I’ve made ever since.

If you want to achieve your financial goals, I think you should make it your only resolution too. Most people spend their entire lives intending to get rich but never make it, and it’s almost always because they never actually do anything

So take action. Here’s how:

First, forget about planning for 2008. A year is too long of a timeline. I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time remembering what I’m supposed to be doing for 15 minutes, much less an entire year.

Second, focus on today. Figure out just one thing you can do today to move yourself closer to the finances you’ve always wanted. Then do it.

Third, pick one thing the next day, and the next day, and the next day, until you wake up six months from now and realize you’ve already achieved all of your goals for 2008, and you have to set new ones.

If you’re having trouble coming up with one thing to do, I’ve put together a list of 50 ideas to get you started.

(Bookmark this so you can come back to it)

1. Fill out the paperwork to start a new LLC for the company you’ve always wanted. Don’t make excuses like, “The forms are so daunting!” or “I’m not living where I want my company to be!” These are not excuses, they are stall techniques. There are companies to help with the filing process, and you can form a California LLC even if you’re living in Hong Kong. Stop stalling and get busy!

2. Sign up for a high yield savings account and transfer money that’s just sitting in your checking account

3. Increase the size of your 401(k) contribution from every paycheck

4. Instead of going out to dinner tonight, use the money to pay down your Christmas debt

5. Setup a Roth IRA and schedule monthly contributions to eventually reach your annual maximum

6. Call your mortgage broker to see if you could save any money by refinancing your house (be sure to include fees in your calculations)

7. Give your boss a list of the ways you made or saved your company money last year and then ask for a raise

8. Figure out new ways to make or save your company money this year and start doing them

9. Audit your credit cards, figuring out which ones to pay off first and examining any other ways to save money

10. Cancel monthly subscriptions that you forgot you were paying

11. Cancel domain name renewals for URLs you no longer care about

12. Send a query letter to a trade magazine about writing an article for them that positions you as an expert

13. Start a blog that demonstrates your expertise and builds preeminence in your niche

14. If you can’t find time to manage your finances, setup interviews with several financial planners that can

15. If you have a second home on the market and it’s not selling, consider canceling the listing and putting a “For Rent” sign in the yard

16. Pull your credit report and examine it for ways to improve your score (helping you get better rates)

17. Remind friends and family of money they “borrowed” from you last year and propose a repayment plan

18. Call your 5 best clients and ask them for ways to improve your service or product this year

19. If they can’t think of any, ask them for referrals to their friends (after all, your company is perfect)

20. While you’re at it, ask those same clients to write a short testimonial or letter of recommendation

21. Then fire your 3 worst clients, dedicating your time to finding new and better ones

22. Fire the employee that’s doing nothing for your company but bleeding you for a monthly paycheck

23. Register for an industry conference, where you can build relationships with powerful people

24. Offer to speak at the conference about a topic all of your peers would like to know more about

25. Hire a professional to rewrite your résumé and then go jobhunting

26. If your product or service clearly provides more value than it costs, raise your rates or prices and see what happens

27. Send out an e-mail to your friends, asking if they know of any killer job openings coming up that you might qualify for

28. Apply for an evening program to get your graduate degree

29. Write a proposal for ways your company can improve and send it to a higher up that cares

30. Talk to your spouse about going back to work, if there’s no longer a good reason for them to stay at home

31. If your spouse isn’t excited about personal finance, talk about going to a seminar together, and if they agree, register for one

32. Start a personal web site at and upload your résumé, portfolio, press clippings, articles, contact information, and anything else that you’d like others to see

33. Buy some business cards and put your personal web site on them, so you can hand them out to people that might want to hire you

34. Call a company that offers a complementary product or service to yours and ask if they’d like to promote your product or service for a commission

35. While you’re at it, ask if you can promote their product or service for a commission

36. Instead of watching television tonight, read a few chapters of a personal-finance book

37. In fact, cancel your cable or satellite service. You don’t need it, and you’ll get a lot more done without it

38. Write a press release about something genuinely remarkable your company is doing and send it to the local media

39. If you’ve always wanted to write a book, buy a book about writing your proposal and set aside the time to read it

40. Join the Chamber of Commerce and network with other business leaders in your community

41. Schedule an appointment with a nutritionist to create a diet that will give you more energy to tackle your finances

42. Consider hiring a part-time housekeeper and dedicating those hours to starting your own company or bettering your career

43. Ask someone that’s more financially successful than you are to lunch and get their advice on how to improve

44. Find an Accountability Partner and talk with them for 15 minutes every morning about what you’re going to that day

45. Read (or reread) a few chapters of Getting Things Done and take an hour to put the principles in practice

46. If you’re not already using a personal-finance software package, tinker with a program like Quicken or Mint and decide if it’s something you can commit to

47. If you’re unsatisfied with your accountant, send an e-mail to your friends and ask for recommendations

48. Put little reminders about your financial objectives beside your computer and on the back of your door, so you don’t forget them

49. Take an hour to decide if those objectives are really important to you, and if not, revise them

50. Somehow, some way, take action today, moving yourself toward your financial objectives, instead of just thinking about them

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