One of the most important life lessons is how to handle finances in adulthood, but it is not something that is often taught. While you may take a class in finance or economics, this does not prepare you for real life. Income, investments, bills, assets, liabilities, the list of financial decisions in life goes on and on. One of the biggest downfalls in handling finances is a lack of education on the topic. This can result in unnecessary debt, financial instability, or in appropriate investments. The best way to ensure you are making the right financial decisions for your future is to begin educating yourself now.
Regardless of your financial situation, there are many steps you can take to improve your financial situation. Here are some great tips to help.
Create a Budget
While it sounds like a great idea to start saving your money, everyone has expenses. And, sometimes unexpected expenses pop up out of nowhere. Your first step to improving your finances should be to create a set budget for your entire household. Whether you are single, have a spouse, or have your own family, creating a budget is essential to your financial success. One of the best ways to improve your financial security is to create a budget focused on saving, not spending.
Essential expenses everyone faces are housing, food, transportation, utilities, etc. While everyone in your household should be aware of the outline of your budget, it’s not necessary to track and focus on every little expense. What is more important is setting a goal and sticking to it. The biggest downfall of many people who find themselves in financial strain is that they only stick with budgeting for a short period of time. Then they fall off the wagon. Lay out your essential expenses. Draw out a list of expected income for each month. Then set a savings goal that is realistic for your left-over money. Once you put that aside, use any money you have left to do what you want.
Take Full Advantage of Your Employer-Sponsored Retirement Plans
This is one of the easiest financial decisions you can make. Financial advisors often look at 401(k) plans before anything else when determining where you should invest your money. Employer-sponsored retirement plans are basically like free money. Most employers will match what you put into your retirement plans. Your goal should be to max out your 401(k) contributions. Before you open any taxable investment account, be sure you are maxing out your employer-sponsored benefit plan.
Consolidate Your Debt with Lower Interest Rates
Evaluate your current debts. Are there areas where you can save on interest? Compare interest rates and see if you can transfer debts where possible. If you have high-interest debts, taking out a personal loan to pay this off is the better option. Lower interest rates can help you save money and pay off your debts in a shorter time period.
Many companies are available to help consolidate your debt and save on interest rates. Even student loans can be paid off with lower interest rates like these. Financial planners have the knowledge you need to find the best options. Talk to your financial planner about how to save money on paying off your debt.
Set Alerts on Your Credit and Debit Cards
Credit cards have many benefits. You can earn rewards, benefit from cash back, build up points, and more. But, this often leads to built up debt that can get out of control. It is also very easy to swipe a card without keeping proper track of what’s going on with your finances until things get out of hand. Luckily, there are alerts that can be set on most of your cards. You can receive a text or e-mail notification when your balance reaches a certain point.
Using your debit card for purchases is a great way to keep track of your expenses. At the end of the day, you can look back at all your expenses in one spot rather than having to sift through receipts when you use cash. Debit alerts can be set as well. And to avoid overdrawing your account, you can set alerts that notify you when you balance starts to get low. There are even apps for the phone that track your expenses and point out unnecessary spending.
Enlist the Help of a Professional
Financial planners, consultants, and portfolio management companies are set in place to make it easier for you to make the right decisions when it comes to your finances. If getting on track with your finances, and saving money, is difficult despite all these efforts, talk to a financial advisor. A financial plan can help map out your objectives and goals and keep you on the right track to financial success. It can also be tracked and changed as your financial situation improves or declines. Whatever the case, a qualified professional who is skilled in the world of finances can give you the answer you need to improve your financial responsibility.
Life is tough, and finances can be even tougher. The good news is that making smarter financial decisions is easier than you may think. Improve your financial situation, achieve your financial goals, and take the road to greater financial success. The sooner you embark on your financial journey, the less work you will have to do. For more information on how a financial planner can help you, talk to a professional today!