Just last week, I returned home from my two-week vacation to Japan.

At first, I just thought it was going to be a fun trip (which it was), but it also ended up being necessary for the sake of my own sanity.

I was extremely fatigued leading up to the trip, trying to do everything in my power to not fall apart. I was burned out, so if I couldn’t have gone on this trip, I have no idea what state I would be in now.

After returning home, I immediately encountered some challenges, including conflicts with business partners, my car breaking down, breaking my cable modem, my favorite pair of jeans getting ripped, and so on.

I was hoping I wouldn’t have any major expenses to cover, especially after returning from my trip. But to be fair, I knew my car wasn’t going to last much longer.

Since returning, I’ve been finding ways of streamlining my financial life, and I’ve had a few “aha” moments I wanted to share with you.

Here are some things you can do to get control of your personal and business finances.

1. Brainstorm & Write All Your Ideas Down on Your Whiteboard

I thought about separating this tip from the others because of how important I think it is.

After returning home from Japan, I made a section on my board simply titled “CASH”. This is where I’ve been keeping a running list of ideas on how to save and make money.

If you do nothing else, do this. It could change your financial life for the better.

The brain likes to fill empty spaces. It does this naturally. Pose a question, and you will receive an answer, even if it isn’t immediately.

I think you’ll also discover that the ideas you come up with are entirely pragmatic and don’t take long to execute. This means you should be able to free up quite a bit of money within a short period of time.

But practically speaking, what can you do to free up some money? Read on.

2. Look at Your Bank Account Statements to Identify Unnecessary Spending

To me, the most important items to consider are ongoing costs. If you eat out here and there and spend a little bit on entertainment, no harm no foul. What eats away at your resources is inevitably expenses that recur over and over.

Think about it. That $40 monthly charge may not seem big now. But over the course of a year, that’s $480. In two years, you’ll have spent $960. It’s easy to see how recurring charges can add up when you look at the long haul.

So, cancel any subscriptions you no longer need. There are many categories to think about here – Netflix, SaaS apps, magazines, and so forth. Eliminate whatever isn’t absolutely essential to your life right now. Don’t worry – you can always re-subscribe later if you need to. Right now, it’s all about cutting costs, especially if you’re faced with crisis.

3. Look at Your Credit Card Statement to Identify Unnecessary Spending

Show me your pocketbook and calendar and I’ll show you what your priorities are.

Your pocketbook and schedule reveal your priorities. Click To Tweet

It’s all too easy to charge items to your credit card and forget about them entirely. Again, the one-time charges won’t necessarily kill you (unless they’re exorbitant).

The ongoing charges are what tend to add up. Interest adds up too, particularly if you aren’t paying down the full balance of your card every month.

Generally, all you need to do to cancel subscriptions is log in to your account online and find the option to cancel payments, or place a quick phone call with the business in question.

4. Look at Your PayPal Transactions to Identify Unnecessary Spending

If you don’t use PayPal, you can skip this step. Otherwise, it might be another culprit for spending you aren’t tracking or even aware of.

I like using PayPal for recurring payments because I can set it up to debit my bank account instead of a credit card. I’m not a fan of credit cards. If I didn’t need to use one, I wouldn’t.

Nevertheless, if I found any payments I didn’t think I should be making right now, I cut them off.

If you’re making any recurring payments on PayPal, don’t neglect them. Take inventory and remove any that aren’t serving you right now. Again, you may want access to certain privileges later, but that can wait until you’re in better shape financially.

5. Identify Untapped Opportunities in Your Life & Follow Through with Them

It’s all well and good to cut back on costs. But if you’re bleeding money, then you’ll also want to seek out opportunities to boost your income.

Additionally, there’s no reason you can’t add money making opportunities to the “CASH” section of your whiteboard.

In my case, I noticed I had a couple of people that were interested in PR campaigns, so I followed up with them. I also became an affiliate for a music training website. It may not generate income right away, especially since I’m not a pushy salesman, but I figured there could be some good long-term opportunities there.

You might want to look at: Gigging opportunities, freelance work, part-time work, collecting cans and bottles, or anything else that could help you produce extra cash while you’re grinding out the tough times.

Final Thoughts

I don’t know anyone that says they love wasting money, and yet if we’re honest with ourselves, we would realize we all do it at times. We spend unnecessarily and get ourselves into trouble.

Even if that’s not the case, when emergencies and unexpected expenses come up, it can drain your account relatively quickly. I was prepared for such a contingency, and yet I still ended up forking over a lot of cash I had worked hard to earn and save.

Moral of the story – you never know what’s going to happen. If you end up needing some extra money at any time, it’s good to know there are simple ways of leaping forward in your financial life.

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David Andrew Wiebe

David Andrew Wiebe

Founder & CEO at The Music Entrepreneur
David Andrew Wiebe has built an extensive career in songwriting, live performance, recording, session playing, production work, investing, and music instruction. In addition to helping musicians unlock their full potential, he also continues to maintain a performance schedule with Long Jon Lev and Adrenalize. If you'd like to be notified whenever the blog is updated, click here to subscribe.
David Andrew Wiebe
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