Some of the most stressful times in a young adult’s life can be when they get their first real job and have to manage all of the adult responsibilities that come with making money. Up until that point, most people rely on parents or guardians to help them out with their finances, but there does come a time when it’s all up to you to figure it out. To make sure that you get started on the right foot, we have laid out a few habits that are great to learn when you are young so that your financial future will be bright.
Know Where It’s Going
One of the first habits anyone should learn about managing money is to know exactly where your money goes. If you can master the art of keeping track of all of your finances and making a budget that fits your lifestyle, all of the other money habits will come easy to you.
To get started, just make a simple list of your incoming and outgoing expenses. Start to think of how much you need to spend, save and give, and make notes each month on what worked and what didn’t. Keep track of every transaction you make, whether it be by hand, using Excel or even a tracking app like Mint or You Need A Budget (YNAB). Pretty soon, budgeting and tracking will become second nature to you.
Save for Emergencies
Another great habit to learn while you are young is to start an emergency fund and regularly contribute to it. Open up a savings account that you vow to only touch in case of a true emergency. Every month when you make your budget, add a line item for your emergency savings. If you automatically put it into your budget, you will build a habit of contributing something to it regularly. Most experts recommend at least having 3-6 months of expenses in your emergency fund to be on the safe side. If you put in a little each month, it won’t be long until you reach that goal.
Think About Retirement
You are young, and retirement is a long way off, but it’s still a good idea to start contributing to it now. Just think, the earlier you start, the more money you will have when you hit retirement age. There are many ways to contribute to a retirement account. Most of the time your employer probably offers some kind of 401K or pension plan. If they don’t, you can open one up yourself and contribute to it regularly. Just get with a local financial advisor and they can get you started. When you learn to contribute to retirement early, you are setting yourself up for a more stable financial future.
One of the best ways to ensure you do well with your money is to learn self-control. Try to control the part of you that wants immediate gratification everytime you see something you want. If you can learn to control your spending and say no to yourself every once in a while, you will be miles ahead of many people twice your age. People with good self-control are more likely to stay out of debt and have fully-stocked emergency funds. Having self-control will put you on the right path to personal financial success.
No matter what your age, these four habits can help get you on the right path with your money.
As the weather cools off this fall, it’s time to start thinking about getting your home ready for winter. In a few weeks or so, your electric bill and wallet will start feeling the consequences of the colder temperatures. To combat the extra expenses, try these energy conservation tips for the cold weather months.
Keep It Open
When it’s cold outside, try to keep your curtains and blinds open to let the natural sunlight in. The sun will naturally warm your home causing your heating system to run less. The less it runs, the more money stays in your wallet.
Check for Leaks
Go around to each window and door in your home and check to see if you can feel any cold air leaking through. Another great way to check for air leaks is to see if you can see sunlight peeking around the corners of any windows or doors. If you do find a leak, make sure you caulk or seal it right away. The more warm air escapes from your home, the harder your heater has to work to keep your house at a comfortable temperature.
Let Your Fan Help
Believe it or not, your ceiling fan can help keep your home warm by simply reversing the rotation of the blades. Since hot air rises, set your fan blades to spin clockwise to help push that warm air down to where you can feel it. It’s a simple tip, but it can be very effective–especially in smaller spaces.
Switch to LED
A great measure to take any time of the year, switching out any of your regular light bulbs to LEDs can help conserve energy and lower your electric bill. However, as the holidays approach, consider using all LED holiday lights for your decorations this year. You will likely see a reduction in the Christmastime electric bill spike that everyone comes to dread.
So you see, implementing a few of these energy conservation measures can really add up to savings! Just follow these tips and you can be on your way to saving money during the winter months.
Everyone has an idea of where they would like to be financially in life. Whether it be retiring with a certain amount in the bank, or simply saving up enough money for a nice vacation, having goals for your finances can be a motivating way to stay on the right track. So how do you effectively set goals? Here are a few easy steps to get you started in the right direction:
What Do You Want?
The first step to any goal setting exercise is to find out what you want. Do you want to increase your savings? Do you want to send your kids to college sans loans? Whatever your objectives are, you need to define them before you can make a plan of action. Having a “why” behind your goals will help you stick with the plan even when the going gets tough.
Get Your Priorities Straight
After you have decided on all of your financial goals, it’s time to prioritize. Chances are you are not going to be able to work on all of your goals at the same time. You need to figure out which goals are the most important right now, and when it has been completed, start on another one. Taking it one goal at a time will help you stay focused and keep you motivated while you see your progress every month.
Of course the “B-word” is going to show up in this list! Budgeting is arguably the single most effective way to reach your financial goals quickly. When you have a budget, you are telling your money where you want it to go and not the other way around. You can work your financial goals into your budget easily, and if you stick to your budget, you will see progress on your goals quickly.
Once you start working on your goals, it’s important to keep track of your progress. This helps you see where you are and how far you have to go. It will also keep you motivated to finish what you start. Likewise, if something isn’t working for you, you can go back to where you have been tracking your goals to see what is wrong and make the necessary adjustments. Reaching your financial goals is just easier when you keep track.
So there you have it–easy, sensible ways to make financial goals and stick to them. It’s not hard, it just takes a little work to get it going. If you follow these simple steps, you will be on your way to financial freedom in no time.
Saving money is a goal most of us probably have in common. Some people may want to save money to just simply add to their wealth, and others may want to have a good amount of savings in case emergencies arise. Whatever your motive, it can sometimes be hard to find the extra money each month to put back for a rainy day–especially if you live paycheck to paycheck.
Here are some simple ways you may not have thought of to save money each month:
Fees Are (Sometimes) Negotiable
Does credit card interest deter you from paying down your debt in a timely manner? Do you pay checking account fees to your bank? What about processing fees to other vendors? If you can answer any of these questions with a “yes,” you may be able to negotiate these fees or even waive them all together. This falls into the “you never know until you ask” category. Call your credit card company or bank and simply ask if they will either waive your fee or at least give you a lower interest rate. If they say no, you are no worse off than you were before the call, but if they say yes, you’ve just saved yourself some money each month. You’d be surprised how many times they actually do say yes.
Check Your Subscriptions
If you are like most Americans these days, you probably have a lot of subscriptions to a lot of different things. It’s good to sit down and take a good hard look at everything you are subscribed to. Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, subscription boxes, grocery subscriptions, meal plan subscription, book subscriptions–anything that you pay monthly is technically a subscription. Compile a list and honestly go through it and ask yourself if you really use that subscription or get your money’s worth out of it. Does it add any value or happiness to your life? If so, then keep it. If not, it’s time to cancel. You will probably be surprised at how much you will be willing to let go in the name of saving some money each month.
Food is always a big category in any budget. If you are ever looking to cut money, the food category is a good place to start. How much money do you spend eating out? How much money do you spend on food out due to poor planning on your part? If your honest, probably a lot. Each week (or month), make a meal plan for every meal and snack you are going to eat. When you make a plan, account for any leftovers that can be re-purposed into another meal. When you plan everything out like this, you will always know what your next meal is going to be, and therefore, you won’t be stuck in a situation that forces you to spend money to eat out. Buying groceries off your meal plan instead of daily meals out will save you a ton of money each month if you stick to your plan.
Direct Deposit To Savings
Perhaps the easiest way to ensure you save money each month is to have some of your paycheck direct deposited into your savings account. That way, you don’t even have a chance to spend it on anything else. Even if it is only $20 per check, it’s better than not contributing anything. After a few paychecks, it will become normal and you won’t even miss the money you are saving. Your savings account will grow automatically without you even having to touch it.
So you see, when you put a little thought into it, it’s easy to save a few bucks here and there. What you won’t realize is that all these little savings add up each month to a rapidly growing savings account with which you can feel secure.
When you work hard at your job everyday, it’s really nice to be appreciated with a pay raise. Any raise, even a small one, not only boosts your morale, but it helps you financially. If you are working to improve your finances, it’s best not to jump right in and spend all that extra money. Instead, make that extra money work for your financial goals with one of the following tips.
Wait Before Spending
Before you run out and start upgrading your life and budget with your new paycheck, try to wait a few weeks to see how that paycheck is going to look with your new wages. Exactly how much extra per paycheck are you getting after taxes are deducted? Once you have calculated the difference between your old and new paycheck amounts for a few weeks, then you can figure out how to allocate it the most effectively.
With the higher paychecks you now receive, it’s time to recalculate your budget. Look over your current budget and find areas that could use the extra money. If your budget is great as it is, think of extra categories that you could add to help reach your financial goals faster.
Save the Extra
One of the easiest options for your raise can be to take everything extra over your normal paycheck amount and put it in savings. Even if it is only $20 extra per paycheck–automatically put it into your savings and pretend it’s not there. You will still be living off of the same amount you were previously, but now you have more to put into savings.
Pay Off Debt
Similarly to saving the extra, if you have any debt whatsoever, use that extra money every week to pay it off faster. Again, it may not be the most fun option, but you were already used to living off your “before-raise” amount, so you won’t even know it’s missing.
Another option is to automatically put the extra money into your retirement or other investment accounts. Planning for your future is never a bad option, and like most of these tips, every little bit adds up. If you don’t feel like you make enough extra in each paycheck to invest, just save it all up and make one lump sum investment each month.
As you can see, there are many options for your pay raise to be used effectively. When you really plan for the extra in your life, you can methodically reach your financial goals faster.