4 tips to get back on track financially this year

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It's hard to believe, but the year is nearly halfway over. Depending on how your year has gone, this could be either a good or bad thing.

Many people like to set New Year's Resolutions, though unfortunately not everyone is successful. That could be a problem when it comes to your money, since about one-third of the resolutions people make are money-related. If you're still feeling the financial pinch and believe there's no time left for you to make a positive change, don't get discouraged: There is still significant time to make some positive changes for your financial life. Here are four tips to get you back on track to finishing the year off right.

Challenge Your Expenses

Life is busy. We all know it, and it can be easy to accept the cost of things without giving them a second thought. This is where a little frugality goes a long way in helping you right your financial ship.

You might be wondering what challenging your expenses means. It's quite simple – take a look at your regular spending and see where the fat can be trimmed. Prime candidates for fat trimming include cell phone plans, cable television (especially if you are currently getting premium channels that you don't watch) and auto insurance (you might be able to switch to a plan with a lower rate).

Start a Budget

This "b" word can be a tough pill to swallow for some – but it doesn't have to be that way. In fact, living with a budget can be quite freeing as it shows you what your money is doing for you and what you have to spend.

The habit of living by a budget flows naturally out of challenging expenses and doesn't need to be difficult. Try using one of the free platforms out there like Mint or You Need A Budget or go simple with a spreadsheet. You might even want to check out the online platform offered through your bank, if it has one. Make it work for you and tweak it as you go. You'll be surprised at how many leaks you discover.

Find Ways to Make More Money

Frugal living and expense cutting can only take you so far. You need to have some items to live on and thus can't cut to zero for everything. If you've found that you have cut as much as you can but need to do more to get back on track financially, look for ways to make more money outside your normal day job.

It might be a challenge to think of ways to make more money, but look at what talents or skills you have and find ways to monetize them. The prevalence of work available online makes it possible to earn a handsome side income if you have any technical talent, ability to write, skill at design and so forth. Even if you do not have any of these skills you can still make money at things from walking dogs to cleaning houses to tutoring. Use this additional income and combine it with cost cutting and you can catapult your frugal desires exponentially.

Begin Thinking About the End of the Year

Since it's still summertime, it might seem early to consider the end of the year. But the fact is, the holidays are only a little over five months away. Thinking of what to buy for the holidays now might seem a bit contrary to expense cutting, but the last thing you want is to end up in mid-December and not know what you can afford or what to buy.

Use this time to determine what you will spend this holiday season on gifts and even begin a small budget to use for this specific expense. By thinking about it now, you give yourself time to find the best possible deals so you can keep your spending in check.

The year may be half over, but you still also have a significant amount of time to get back on track. By challenging your expenses and finding ways to stretch your dollar even more, you're more likely to end up where you want by year-end.

Copyright 2015 U.S. News & World Report

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