Set a Budget and Stick To It
Budgeting is one of the most important financial steps you can make to improve your finances. Although it may seem like you know where your money is going, without a budget in place, you are likely spending more than you think and missing opportunities to save. Knowing how much money you having coming in and going out is important. Not only will you be able to better manage your money, but it will give you a piece of mind to have a full knowledge of your finances. Creating a budget doesn’t have to be a lengthy process. There are many resources out there to help make it easy and fun! Personal finance is not a passive activity; it requires you to take an active role to get where you want to go with your money. A little work up front will save and potentially make you more money in the long run.
Identify Your Goals As Soon As Possible
Take a look at what you want to accomplish in both the short and long term, write these goals down and tell other people about them so that you will have a feeling of accountability. Aim to set tangible and realistic goals that you will be able to follow. As you progress through the year, check in a few times a month to see how you are doing and what needs to be done. Tracking your progress is the key to achieving what you set out to do.
Utilize Financial Tools
There are so many resources out there to assist in helping you achieve financial success. From blog articles, podcasts and television shows from renowned financial experts to websites that help you track spending to your local credit union, the help is there. If you feel like you need a starting point, we recommending calling or stopping into an Idaho Central branch to speak with one of our team members.
Build an Emergency Fund
Another important aspect of being financially healthy is being prepared for the unexpected. Financial experts recommend that you maintain a cash reserve large enough to cover three to six months’ worth of household expenses. This may seem like a lot, but an unforeseen job loss in today’s uncertain economies or a significant injury, car repair or natural disaster could lead you into financial ruin if you are not prepared. According to a Federal Reserve Board survey, the typical low- and middle-income household says it desires $3,000 in “precautionary savings.” However, an emergency fund of as little as $500 can make a difference.
Start Paying Off Debt
Owing a lot of money can weight you down financially. Once you feel like you are in a place with your financial plan where you feel you can start tackling debt, you’ll need to take a look at what makes sense specifically for you. For instance, if you have a low-interest rate loan, it might actually be more beneficial to keep that debt and use your money elsewhere.
The amount of debt you have and the amount of money you make will greatly determine how much debt you are able to pay off. Once you decide to tackle a debt, make it a goal to pay off a specific amount of debt over the course of 2016. A vague resolution to pay all your debt off won’t get you anywhere. Include a specific dollar amount and an end date in your goal. After going through your budget, find a fixed amount that you can pay each month and work with your financial institution to make the payments automatic. Also make sure to be realistic and set yourself up for success. If you’re barely making ends meet, don’t make your goal to pay off $25,000 in debt over the course of the year.
The road to financial success does require you to be an active participant, but isn’t overwhelming if you tackle it in pieces. Put in a little work up front to set you and your family up for a great new year!