The majority of adults could benefit from making better financial decisions. Here are some suggestions to help you change the way you view your finances and change your thinking and behaviors about money. These tips will help you budget your money and develop sound financial habits.
A Few Financial Basics
1. Create a Financial Calendar
This is a good place to start planning ahead. If you have quarterly tax bills, house taxes, annual or semi-annual insurance policies to pay, set up reminders on your calendar. You can also allocate money monthly in your checking or savings account so these larger expenses don’t break the bank.
2. Check Your Interest Rate
It’s always good advice to shop around for any type of loan and credit cards. Try to avoid carrying monthly balances on any department store cards as their rates range from 25 to 30%. Instead, look for credit card promotions that offer lower rates or better yet zero balance options for a set period of months. Several banks reward consumers for using their credit cards for dining, groceries and gasoline which puts money back into your pocket. Another savings would be having a credit card that earns points that can be used for travel.
3. Calculate and Track Your Net Worth
To find out where you stand in reaching your financial goals calculate your net worth. This is the difference between your assets and debt. You should periodically check your net worth to ensure you are moving toward your financial goals and to keep a watchful eye on your spending.
Budget Like a Pro
4. Set A Monthly Budget
Every financial plan starts out with a sound budget. Find out how much you’re spending each month by checking your bank statements. It’s important to look back at your spending habits for the past six months to a year. This will ensure that all of your expenses are accounted for including any annual, semi-annual or quarterly payments for taxes and/or insurance. Now divide the total annual expenses by twelve to calculate the average amount of money you need to set aside for your monthly expenses.
5. Build Up Emergency Savings
Life is full of surprises, but don’t get caught without building up an emergency savings. Unexpected expenses from car repairs, home repairs or medical bills could leave you with less funds to keep your monthly budget a float.
6. Lifestyle Spending
Be sure to include a portion of your budget for treating yourself to a movie, dining out, happy hour with friends and clothing expenses. It’s important to keep these expenses in your budget and not rely on using your charge cards.
7. Future Financial Priorities
No matter what your age, setting aside money for retirement is a necessity. Your employer might offer a program where they match the amount you are investing. Look over your budget to see how much you can invest. An option is to use some of your tax return money to buy an annual . Everyone needs to build up their nest egg for future financial security.
How to Get Motivated
8. Set Specific Financial Goals
Review your budget and decide what you want to accomplish with your money. Are you saving for a new car, a down payment on a home, a special vacation or another goal? Plan how much money you want to save and by what date.
9. Create a Financial Vision Board
To keep you motivated and on track with your long term financial goals, you can make a vision board with photographs that will inspire you to keep saving.
10. Short Term Goals
In addition to setting long term savings goals, it is important to reward yourself with a short term goal. You could save some money each week towards a weekend getaway that would a pleasant perk.
Each month, aim for sticking to your budget and you will be on the path to reaching your financial goals. There could be some obstacles, but try to get right back on track with your spending as soon as possible.