At some point in life, everyone stops to consider what could be holding them back from getting ahead financially. Realistically, the odds of winning the lottery are just too astronomical! Don’t spend time wishing and hoping your financial life will change. Place more of your focus on managing your finances and develop the following habits that promote growth of your hard-earned dollars.
- Be conscious of your spending. If you’re coming up short on funds at the end of the month, get a handle on where your money is going. Take the time to track ALL of your spending. Set up a spreadsheet or use an app like Mint that will make it easier for you. Paying for daily lattes and lunches can add up. Drop or reduce subscription services. Address needs first and take control of wants or nice-to-have expenses!
- Automate your bill payments. Paying your bills through automated online bill payments will help you avoid late fees and added finance charges. Frequent late payments also can affect your credit score, which could result in your having to pay higher interest rates on loans. Avoid fees by keeping an adequate balance in the account you use to pay your bills. Don’t let fees and finance charges become an added and unnecessary expense!
- Pay down and manage your debt. The average American household has $15,000 in credit card debt at interest rates ranging from15% to 29%. Make sure you pay more than the minimum each month to pay off your balance sooner while reducing the overall interest you’ll pay. After paying off your credit cards, make a pledge to yourself to wait on purchases until you can pay for them in full when the statement comes. Waiting could give you time to find even better deals!
- Save for your retirement. Time flies when you have so many obligations in life, so retirement is really not as far away as you think. Contribute to your employer’s 401k or retirement fund. Take advantage of any employer match that is offered – it’s “free money” so take it! Traditional and Roth IRAs are also good vehicles to help you lock money away for the future. If you want to be financially secure in your golden years, don’t overlook this important money habit!
- Create an automatic savings plan. Make sure to pay yourself every month, no matter what. Your savings are the foundation of your financial security. You should set a goal of having: an Emergency Fund containing at least six months of your wages for any unforeseen event; a college fund for your children’s educational future; a vacation fund to add family memories; and a holiday fund to share the joy of the season with loved one. All good reasons to save!
Remember, you give power to what you focus on. So, focus on your money habits and financial management skills and give power to your ability to grow your funds and financial well-being. Just know that it is a lifelong journey – one that you can get started on today!