Dollar Power: How to Get the Most for Your Money

By Miranda Marquit

What’s the power of a dollar? It can be almost anything you want it to be. However, the real question is this: How do you get the most for your money?

Not every use of your dollar will help you reach your goals. So, when you start figuring out how to get the most for your money, a lot of the time it’s about being intentional. If you’re ready to take your money to the next level, here’s what you need to know about making your money work better for you:

Know What’s Important

As with so many things in life, knowing what’s important is a big step toward deciding how to get the most for your money. Start by sitting down and identifying what matters most to you, and how you want your finances to look down the road.

What are your most important goals? Paying off debt? Saving for retirement? Starting a business?

Take a look at what matters most to you and be realistic about what you need your money to do for you in order to make it happen. You can even use our Wealth Calculator to provide you with inspiration when it comes to investing in your goals. Once you know what you’re aiming for — and what it will take to get there — you’re far more likely to use your money in a way that benefits you.

Understand What You’re Giving Up

Every purchase you make is a choice. You’re giving something up to make that purchase. A new pair of shoes might mean $150 you can’t put toward retirement or use toward that great vacation you’re planning.

When you buy on credit, you’re also locking yourself in to pay interest. That can be an issue as well. Now you’re paying money just to borrow money. Are the things you spend on actually helping you reach your long-term and short-term financial goals?

Before you put something in your shopping cart or whip out the credit card, think about what else you could be doing with the money. Compare it to the things you’ve identified as most important. Are these less important purchases getting in the way of your long-term financial stability?

Be real about the situation and be brutally honest. When you buy things, are you actually preventing your efforts to get the most for your money? A little money mindfulness can go a long way.

Visualize Your Life with Your Money Goals Met

Staying motivated can be tough. After all, retail therapy or a brand new car (even though your old one works fine) brings instant gratification. You can feel good now.

But what happens when the newness wears off? What happens when you no longer enjoy that feeling? Pretty soon you’re stuck with uninspiring stuff that isn’t actually enriching your life.

In order to get the most for your money, consider visualizing your life when your money works for you. Think about what it would be like to retire early and travel. Or how you would feel paying for your child to go to college debt-free. Consider your life with a successful and thriving business.

While living in the future too much can actually be detrimental, visualization can help you stay on track when used correctly. When you’re ready to pay for that item that you’ll just discard in a few months, stop to think about how, instead of an expense, it could be an investment in your future.

Before making any new purchases, force yourself to stop and take stock. Figure out how much the purchase will set you back, understand the limited way it will enrich your life today, and then visualize yourself with financial freedom if you can just put off the purchase for a few more days.

Surround Yourself with Like-Minded People

Finally, make sure you’re surrounding yourself with like-minded people that will hold you accountable and help you make the right choices. Let your friends and family know your goals — and see if they want to join you in a challenge.

True friends will stay in with you, having a potluck movie night, when you’re trying to save money instead of going out.

If you’re trying to start a business, join a mastermind group or the local small business association and rub shoulders with other folks trying to get their businesses off the ground. Joining a community that has similar goals and can help you stay on track and see how it’s done can be inspiring and help you move forward with your own financial goals.

If you want to get the most for your money, it’s about setting goals, and then being intentional about how you reach them by prioritizing what matters and then surrounding yourself with people who will support and encourage you.