Do you worry about your money? Do you fret that you won’t have enough for retirement, wonder how you’d pay for an emergency, or whether you can afford your children’s college education? Worry doesn’t get you anywhere, but taking action does. It’s time to take control of your money to make sure you have the financial security you need both now and in the future.
The six tips below are general pointers designed to get you started. For more specific guidance, read what financial professionals suggest, such as in this Q&A by Daniella Rand.
1. Have a big purchase in mind? Take your time before going ahead.
It’s difficult to avoid the culture of instant gratification. You have a credit card with a big limit burning a hole in your pocket. You really want the latest and greatest iPhone. Before you hand the plastic over, take a deep breath, and wait 24 hours.
Why wait? Delaying an impulse buy gives you time to think a purchase through. Is your current phone doing its job? Will you have the money to pay your credit card balance in full when the bill arrives? Do you have to buy the latest and greatest to live a happy life?
Money in the bank, savings and investments give you a path to financial security. Buying something expensive you don’t need in the first place puts a giant stumbling block in your path.
2. Educate Yourself About Finances
Take the time to educate yourself about personal finance. Learn to recognize money drains. Avoid taking advice from relatives who may not have the expertise to guide you. Read books and arm yourself with the knowledge to avoid the unscrupulous or well-meaning but uninformed.
3. Determine Your Financial Goals
Define your goals. Do you want to save for retirement? Do you need to save for your child’s education? Do you want to save for several life events? Financial goals keep you focused and give you the incentive to save.
4. Figure Out Where Your Money Goes
Keep a written account of every dime you spend over a week. Include coffee shop stops, bills, lunches and shopping expenditures. You’ll be surprised how much money slips through your fingers.
5. Come Up With a Budget You Can Live With
Now that you know where your money goes, figure out ways to reduce the output. If you think that sticking to a budget means always saying no and denying yourself, try looking at budgeting your money differently. Don’t think of sticking to a budget as “no” to that cup of Starbucks every morning. Instead, picture yourself buying your first house. Think about the children heading off to college. Imagine yourself on the beach enjoying retirement. A cup of coffee from home doesn’t sound so bad now, does it?
6. Grow Your Money
Saving money is only part of the equation. To achieve long-term financial security, you have to put your money into accounts and investments that make it grow. Again, research your options and seek the help of a verified financial expert to find the best path to financial security.