The New Year for many means creating new financial resolutions. While we would all love to be more financially secure, we often don’t know which financial resolutions to set to achieve this overall goal. However, a little extra know how can make achieving your financial stability a little easier.
While creating a budget seems like a no brainer, very few people actually create a budget and stick to it. By simply constructing a hard copy budget for yourself, you are already more likely to adhere to your spending goals. So create a budget, and keep a daily or monthly spending journal. You’ll stay truer to your goals, and be more likely to realize where you are hemorrhaging money on a daily basis.
Having a high debt-to-income ratio not only makes it difficult to get low-interest loans, but it also makes it difficult to create additional savings as so much money is being poured in to payments each month. To avoid wasting money on interest and the additional burden on your monthly budget, pay of your consumer debt.
Creating a financial plan is different from creating a budget. A budget is more for the here and now. A financial plan is more future oriented and can help you stay on track financially for years to come. If you want to buy a home, save long term for retirement, or send kids to school, you better create a financial plan, and hiring a certified financial planner to help you do so may be well worth the cost.
If you have health, car, life, homeowners or any other type of insurance, it’s a good idea to sit down and take a look at your policies each year. Can you save money by bundling them with one company? Shop around for some updated quotes too, you may find savings with another company or be able to request a price match with your current company.
Two savings accounts everyone should have are retirement and emergency, and if you have kids, you should have an education account as well. The saying “it’s never too early to start saving for retirement” couldn’t be more true in this day and age. Social security and company retirement benefits aren’t as reliable as they used to be, and Americans today should be taking control of their retirements by investing in IRAs.
An emergency fund should also be on the forefront of your financial goals for the year, and you should strive to build an emergency account that can sustain you and your family for at least 3 months, with 6 months being a more ideal goal.
In your attempt to pay down high interest or consumer debt, you may feel inclined to cut up your credit cards. While this may seem like a great idea, it can actually be a bit detrimental. By cutting up your credit cards, you aren’t teaching yourself how to responsibly use credit, and preventing easy maintenance of good credit. Instead of cutting up your credit cards, determine which are worth keeping by looking at their interest rates and how long you’ve have them. Each month place a small purchase on the card, such as a movie ticket or a gallon of milk. By making full on time payments on these cards monthly you show financial responsibility without racking up another debt.
Sometimes it’s hard to face your financial situation. Whether you just don’t know where to start or you feel like there is just too much to deal with, avoidance isn’t helping you. Start out with something simple - carry a notebook around with you for a month and write down each and every expense. This will help you analyze where your money is going. From there you can create a simple budget based around this spending. After following the budget for a few months, see if there are any areas that could be cut back.
You will have hiccups along the way. Don’t use them as an excuse to give up. We all have setbacks, what separates good financial planners from poor ones is that they continually adjust and make changes in their budget when necessary instead of throwing in the towel.
Becoming financially stable isn’t always easy, but it isn’t impossible. By breaking old habits, such as frequently eating out or overspending on name brands, you can help yourself achieve your financial goals while still having a life you enjoy. Obtaining financial stability doesn’t mean your life becomes more boring, it means less stress, greater security, and the option to make investment decisions that will continue to pay out well into the future.
More expert advice about Budgeting
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