Most of us know what it’s like to live pay check to pay check.

Whether you’re experiencing tighter finances now or at some time in the past, you’ll know how uncomfortable and stressful the situation can be, wondering exactly how you’re going to continue paying the bills or getting ahead on the mortgage.

Indeed, that feeling isn’t even restricted to individuals working in what are typically considered to be low paying jobs. While it may surprise you, many dentists and other health professionals struggle to take control of their finances, while there have been numerous situations in which high-paid elite athletes go bankrupt in retirement.

According to Fortune, 15.7% of NFL players have filed for bankruptcy 12 years after they retired, arguably because they surround themselves with people who help them spend their money. Likewise, individuals in high-paid jobs can sometimes tend to live beyond their means by buying expensive goods and neglecting the need to save.

Regardless of what your situation is, there are often ways you can look to improve your wealth.

Let’s take a closer look…

  1. Keep fit and healthy

This may seem like a strange inclusion in a list of ways to improve your wealth. After all, what does keeping fit have to do with wealth?

Going to the gym or buying a new pair of runners may cost you money now, but in the long-run you could save yourself thousands of dollars in medical bills and private health insurance. If you smoke or drink, cutting back on those items could also save you money now and improve your health and wealth in the long-term.

  1. Budget

Budgeting is often considered a tedious task, but can be a great way to help you retain your wealth. By subtracting important items such as utility bills, food, petrol, rent or mortgage repayments from your weekly income, you will put yourself in a better position to judge how much you can afford to spend on additional items (e.g. Foxtel, or new shoes) and how much you can put away in savings.

  1. Contribute to your super

Contributing more to your superannuation may seem like a stretch, particularly if your finances do feel tight right now. However, if you earn more than $37,000 per year, salary sacrificing (that is, asking your employer to redirect some of your pay into super) contributions up to $30,000 are taxed at 15%, thus reducing the amount you pay to the taxman and keeping more for your retirement.

Note that for individuals over 50-years old, the contribution limit jumps to $35,000 (instead of $30,000) before contributed amounts are taxed at your marginal tax rate.

  1. Invest

Interest rates are sitting at a record low of 1.75%, so whatever cash you’ve got sitting in a bank account is unlikely to be generating any meaningful returns. Instead, you could consider putting some of your money to work in the share market, where returns have significantly outperformed cash in the long-run.

  1. Commit to your investments for the long-run

Frequent buying and selling of investments may seem exciting, but that excitement can suddenly turn to horror when you see the brokerage charges add up. What’s more, capital gains taxes are maximised on short-term gains; hold onto the investments for more than 12 months and capital gains tax can be halved.

Bonus Tip: Focus on shares paying fully franked dividends

There are plenty of great shares trading on the ASX with the potential to generate huge growth. However, investors should also focus on companies paying fully-franked dividends (notably, these companies have already paid tax on the earnings they’re distributing as dividends, reducing your tax bill). You could look at businesses such as Wesfarmers Ltd (ASX: WES), Telstra Corporation Ltd (ASX: TLS) and Retail Food Group Limited (ASX: RFG).

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Motley Fool contributor Ryan Newman owns shares of Retail Food Group Limited. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of Retail Food Group Limited. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.