Financial wellness starts with understanding where your money comes from and where you spend it—but it also includes learning how to protect your information and grow, protect, invest, and save money for your future. These nine tips will help get you started.
Know Where Your Money Goes
Be aware of how you are spending your money. A $5 cup of coffee five days a week costs you $100/month. Review items you spend your money on to find areas where cutting back can grow your savings account.
Develop a Budget
Plan for your spending by developing a budget—and then actually use your budget and keep it handy. Look at it frequently and make adjustments if you see you’ve gone over in one area for the month. If you don’t make unnecessary purchases, and you don’t use a credit card to cover a shortfall, your budget can help you stay on track. You can use this handy budget calculator [HW1] to help you get started.
Include Savings in Your Budget
Pay yourself first. Treat your savings account like any other monthly bill by making a monthly payment toward it. Savings is also a great place to put unexpected money rather than finding a way to spend it.
Plan for Major Purchases
If you know you’ll need to make a major purchase, plan to pay for it using cash rather than credit. Adjust your budget to add more to your savings each month or set up a special account to save for the purchase so you know when you’re ready to buy.
Save for Emergencies
A good plan is to have a minimum of six month’s salary available in your savings account. While this goal will take time to achieve, it’s important to strive for it so you’re prepared for most unexpected emergencies.
Plan for Retirement
Take advantage of interest and market upturns by saving for retirement early. Often, your employer will help you save for retirement with a 401(k) plan. You can also benefit from pre-tax contributions using this method of retirement savings. If your employer offers a company-match, it’s recommended to at least contribute that amount each month.
Get Tax Advice
If you have circumstances that create tax dilemmas (i.e., you’re self-employed, you own and/or lease property, etc.), make sure to seek tax advice from a professional for the best outcome.
Protect Your Credit
You have the right to pull a free credit report from each credit reporting agency once per year at AnnualCreditReport.com. Keep in mind that late payments will adversely impact your credit, as will a failure to pay. You should immediately report any credit issues or discrepancies to the credit reporting agency. Use your credit wisely and ensure your reports are accurate.
Keep Good Financial Records
Use online tools as well as paper copies of receipts to keep records of your pay stubs, banking information, taxes, insurance, and other documents important to your financial situation.
Need a copy for yourself?Download Managing Your Money: Nine Tips to Achieving Financial Wellness Now