Feeling lazy? Find out how you can improve your finances while watching Netflix!
Everybody loves Netflix. You are lying if you don’t!
This weekend, I had what’s commonly referred to as a binge session. You know what I’m talking about. It’s when you’ve watched so many episodes that even Netflix starts to judge you and asks “Are you still watching?”
Ugh, of course I’m still watching! I’ve only watched six episodes today and I still have another 6 to go until I make it to the end of the season.
In the moment, those Netflix binge sessions feel relaxing…shall I say amazing? Afterwards, I tend to feel really guilty because it’s Sunday night and all I’ve accomplished during the weekend is 5 seasons of The Office.
What if I told you that you could get that glorious feeling of finishing the last episode of the last season…while also improving your finances? Yes please!
Check out this list of 30 ways you can improve your finances while being the ultimate couch potato.
By understanding your current financial situation:
1. Order your credit report (it’s free here). This will only take you a few minutes. Once you receive your credit report, you can check credit card balances, confirm the balance and status of any loans, look for mistakes, confirm personal information, and check for identity theft. Reviewing credit reports on a consistent basis is an important way that you can keep informed about your finances.
2. Set up a system to track your spending. Knowing where your money is going can do wonders for your finances. You’ll be able to identify your money leaks (is it restaurants, clothing, travel?) and find ways to plug them. You can track your spending by inputting your financial information into mint.com where your transactions are automatically recorded. You can also set up a spending log where you manually record each time you spend money (this could be in an excel spreadsheet or in a journal).
3. Find out if you are saving enough for retirement by using this simple calculator. You need to know if you are on track or need to boost up your savings.
By organizing your financial life:
4. Start a budget! It’s really not that hard to start a budget and it can transform your financial life. Check out this list of different spreadsheets to help develop a budget. Or, even better, get my super simple monthly budget printable (get it sent to your inbox by entering your email in the box below). I bet you can create one in under 10 minutes (aka, half an episode of The Office).
5. Improve your budget! If you already have a budget, find ways to make it better. You can review previous budgets to see if there are categories that you consistently over (or under) spend on; tweak the money you allot to these categories. You can identify areas you want to spend less money in, and reduce the money allotted to that category by 10% or 20%.
6. Add and organize your financial bookmarks on your computer or phone to make it easier to check your bank statements, credit card statements, and retirement accounts. Having all the links in one folder will provide easy access to your accounts and encourage you to keep an eye on your money!
7. Write down all your passwords and usernames for your financial accounts. This will also help you to keep an eye on your financial status and make sure you are on track to reach your goals. I know that my husband hasn’t checked his 401(k) balance in a long time simply because he doesn’t remember his password – that’s not a good reason!
8. Find out when all of your bills are due. Put the due dates in your calendar and set up a reminder so you never have to deal with late fees! Your rent/mortgage is probably the easiest and due on the first of every month, but I bet your credit cards, loan payments, utility bills, and cable/internet bills are all due at different times of the month.
9. Write down your money goals. What are your 1 year goals, 5 year goals, and retirement goals? It’s important to write these down so you know what you are saving and sacrificing for. Do you want to be debt free by 30? Do you want to spend less than you make? How about retire a millionaire? All are possible, you just need to know what you want so you can start mapping the way to get there.
10. Prioritize your debt and come up with a plan to pay it off. Becoming debt free was one of the best things that ever happened to me, but it was also one of the hardest. The most difficult part was just getting started and promising myself to attack the debt will all I had. One of your first steps should be to prioritize your debt. I highly suggest the Snowball Method where you list your debt from smallest to largest balance. You pay the minimums on all debts, but aggressively pay off the smallest balance debt (with any extra money you have). Then once that is paid off, you move to the next smallest debt. And yes, this can all be done while watching Netflix. I’ve made it ridiculously easy for you by creating 3 printables (that you can get for free over the course of 3 days) to help you prioritize and pay off your debt using the Debt Snowball Method. Sign up in the box below!
11. Reallocate your investments. Is your initial distribution of retirement assets different now because some funds have grown faster than others? You should reallocated your investments to what you want them to be. For instance, did you have 15% of your portfolio in international stocks, but now it has grown to 19%? Well, set it back to 15%. This takes no time and ensures that your money is invested where you want.
By finding ways to save money or spend less:
12. Sign up for Ebates and start getting cash back when you shop online. This is a no-brainer and will take you less than a minute to sign up (aka you can have it done by the time the show intro is over). This is how the site works: go to the Ebates website, type in the store you want to shop at, click the store, and start shopping! You’ll get a percentage of the money you spent at the store (I’ve gotten as low as 2% cashback up to 9% depending on the store and time of year). It’s free money, and you’d be silly to shop online without using Ebates. Oh, and did I mention that they have an app too? – download that while you are at it!
13. Download the Ibotta app to start saving money on groceries. It’s an easy way to save some money as long as you remember to upload your receipt after your trip to the supermarket.
14. Cancel magazine subscriptions. You probably don’t read many of the magazines you pay for anyway. And if you do occasionally read them, chances are you can probably get them at the library (my library even allows you to read magazines online just like e-books).
15. Increase your retirement savings. Even if you just increase your savings by 1%, it can make a huge difference when you consider compound interest and company matching. Trust me, you won’t regret this extra savings when your 65. And honestly, you probably won’t even notice the slightly lower paycheck after a few months.
16. Check your credit cards to see if you are leaving any benefits on the table. Do you have cashback that you haven’t taken advantage of yet? Why not use that extra cash to pay off some of your debt?
17. Review your credit card statement each month. This takes little time and effort, but is very important. You may be shocked at how much you are spending at certain stores (er, did I really go to Target 6 times this month?!). Or you may be surprised that you are still getting charged for that gym membership you thought you canceled months ago.
18. Start a babysitting club with fellow moms and dads. Instead of spending tons of money on babysitters, find a friend (or friends) who are willing to exchange babysitting services for time. For instance, one Friday night, you can watch their kids while they go out for a date. On the next Friday night, they will reciprocate by watching your kids while you go on a date. It’s a win-win for everyone involved and can start with a simple email to a group of friends and neighbors.
19. Start meal planning. This is on every “how to save money” list you’ll ever find, but I feel like it should the STAR of this list. It’s so easy to meal plan while watching Netflix. Just take out that wall calendar that you never use, or simply a blank piece of paper and start writing down breakfast, lunch, and dinner ideas for the upcoming week. Meal planning is truly the simplest thing you can do to cut down on your grocery bill. Meal plan for the week…or for the month if you are feeling ambitious!
20. Download the GasBuddy app to start saving money on fuel. A few cents here and there add up!
21. Start a college savings account for your kids. The sooner you start saving, the better!
22. Automatic your savings. Set up automatic transfers from your checking account to your savings account. This is so easy (you can probably do it in a few minutes on your bank’s website) and it’s a great way to trick yourself into saving money.
23. Open up an IRA. You’d be surprised at how easy you can open up an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) online. Some companies don’t require any money to open an account, while other companies require as little as $50 to start. For Fidelity, which is the company I use for my Roth IRA, there is a higher minimum of $1,000 to open an account. For more information on IRAs, check out this post which simply explains the differences between a Roth and Traditional IRA.
By making more money:
24. Sell unwanted items online. I’m willing to bet you have a handful of clothes that you will never wear again (or never wore in the first place), books that you won’t read, or electronics that you’ve upgraded. Why not sell them? It’s pretty easy to take a cell phone picture and post them to a site like eBay while watching some Netflix.
By making some promises to yourself:
25. Find a money challenge that aligns with your savings goals and start today! Browse this list of money challenges for inspiration.
26. Pick a month to be a no-spend month. Or maybe you want to start simple and start with a no-spend week. Why not give it a try and save some money to put towards debt, beef up the emergency fund, or add to retirement accounts.
27. Identify one unnecessary expense and don’t purchase it all year. It’s been in the back of your mind that you want to give up cable (hey, Netflix satisfies all your needs right?), or maybe you want to stop Starbucks purchases. Find that unnecessary expense and cut it from your budget.
28. Stop eating out for 30 days. I mean, wouldn’t you much prefer to eat in front of the TV anyway? I’m joking, but this really helped me save money on food and feel a lot healthier. This has the potential to save you hundreds of dollars each month.
By improving your financial education:
29. Browse Pinterest for ideas on saving money. Maybe you’ll find a few cheap recipes to make, or you’ll learn how to spend less on utilities, or how to save money on cleaning supplies. Pinterest is filled with great ideas!
30. Find a few financial blogs and start learning how to improve your finances. Well, you’ve already found one (this site!), but there are many more financial blogs out there that will educate you on saving money, getting out of debt, retirement, and so much more. Check out this list of my favorite financial blogs that I credit for helping me get out of debt.
What’s your favorite show on Netflix? Let me know if you try any of these ideas out!