Financial SecurityIf you’re working like crazy and still just squeezing by, living paycheck to paycheck. Don’t worry, you’re definitely not alone. An overwhelming 78% of the US population, those being full time employees share this in common with you. When you’re just starting off your career and learning to be independent, long-term financial planning and security is usually not your top priority. Paying rent and living expenses, chipping away at those student loans and credit card debt are usually the things that fall into your top priority. And, after that’s all been taken care of there’s not a lot left over to think about your future. But what if we told you that it doesn’t have to be this way, and there are ways that others are learning how to become more financially stable?

You might not think that this is something that you need to be concerned about at the moment. I mean why would you? You’re young and there’s plenty of time left in your life to worry about saving and finances. Right now, you just need to make it to the end of the week, so you can check out that new bar that opened down the street. The reality of the situation is, yes you are young and yes you still have a lot of life left to live, but why live life stressed, strapped and struggling. Let’s face it, it’s always going to be “oh I’ll start on it later, I still have time”. Life is unpredictable, and you can’t always rely on time as your savior. Setting yourself up financially now, by creating good spending habits, the better off you’ll be in the future. Even if your future, comes a little bit sooner and you have to use some of that safety money for your car that just broke down or that medical bill you just got in the mail. Life happens, but it’s a good thing that you set yourself up sooner rather than later and you have the means to take care of the obstacles that life throws at you.

Regardless where you are in your career, there are a few things you should be doing to set yourself up for financial success. Below are 11 ways that will help you get your finances in order, leaving you smooth sailing for years to come.

1. Budget

Having a budget is key to financial stability. No ifs and or buts. If you don’t keep track of your where your money is going, and where it should and shouldn’t be going, it really won’t take long for your spending to get out of control. Having a budget doesn’t mean that you can’t indulge in some of life’s pleasures like a nice cup of Starbucks or simplifying your life every once in awhile with a quick Uber Eats delivery. Having a budget just means you need to be realistic about your spending habits and knowing what you can afford and how often you can afford it. Knowing what you can and can’t live without. And if you can’t live without that daily cup of Starbucks, that’s okay. Just make sure you work it into your budget and make sure that it balances out with your other daily spending. It all comes down to what you can afford to spend on things that aren’t life or death and cutting out that latte may actually be the death of you.

2. Research

If you’re anything like me the idea of money and personal finances might leave you bright eyed and excited. Just kidding, those are things that would leave anyone stressed out enough to the point where they just avoid it all together. This can be a dangerous game to play though. Being informed on the best options to handle your debt and ongoing expenses is going to be a great place to start. There are several resources that can contribute to your money saving habits and can teach you to be sharp spender.

3. Earn More, Spend More? Try Again…

Getting a new job or earning a raise at your current job can be relieving and exciting. All that extra money that’s now in your pocket may leave you thinking “Now what am I going to do with all this extra cash?!” Try again. Rewarding yourself for your hard-earned work is deserved! So, go ahead and splurge a little and buy yourself something nice! But on an ongoing basis, let’s try taking some of that extra cash you’re earning and adding it to your saving.

4. Beware of Expensive Habits

Your expensive habits can add up and can end up being difficult to squeeze into that weekly or monthly budget, depending on how often you like to justify those purchases. This all goes back to budgeting and making room for the things you can and can’t live without. When going out with friends, don’t let your expenses multiply and go out with the mentality that you’re having a good time and you’ll worry about those reoccurring expenses later.

5. Automate Your Monthly Bills

Having to manually pay your bills is not only a hassle, but it can leave you with a late fee in the off chance that you accidentally miss one of your bills. Almost any bill that you have to pay including rent, phone bill, those monthly subscriptions that you’ve decided you can’t live without can be automatically paid right from your bank account. By doing this, you’re saving yourself time, money and it’s already figured in to your monthly budget.

6. Know Your Credit Score

Knowing your credit score can give you a great baseline on where to start for your financial planning. If your credit score is below average, it gives you opportunity to begin damage control and gain a few extra points to get you back on track. If you are one of the lucky ones with a great credit score, you can always work on maintaining or gaining a few tips to make it even better.

7. Know Your Goals

Knowing your goals whether they be getting married, starting a family, or purchasing a piece of real estate, are very important. These hopefully aren’t things that you think about doing the day before. Having long term goals and planning and setting aside a little bit of money now can make these goals more achievable 5-10 years don the road when you’re ready to make that leap.

8. Learn the Art of the Deal

Learning the art of the deal can be taken in terms of knowing how to negotiate your worth for a potential raise or new job offer or knowing when you’re overpaying for that subscription that you thought you were getting a great deal on. Learning the art of the deal means more money in your pocket and thus more money to spend on other things, right? Try again. This means more money to pad your savings account with, so you can work on buying that house down the road!

9. Get a Money Buddy

That seasonal cold and flu isn’t the only thing that’s contagious. Spending habits can become contagious too. The only difference is, you might have to work a little harder at contracting healthy spending habits from your friend. It’s been proven that choosing a money buddy that has strong financial spending habits and you trust, will motivate you to make better financial decisions as well.

10. Use Caution With Credit Cards

Sure, credits cards can be convenient and incredibly useful when you have a big purchase that you have to make. However, if you know your spending habits aren’t where they need to be and you’re not going to work at paying off that credit card bill, then it’s not worth the situation you’re going to be putting yourself into later. Let’s think about it though, if you were practicing the steps above and planning for financial security, you’d have that safety cash to cover those large expenses. Using cash or even your debit card is a great way to make sure that you’re not living beyond your means and contributing to credit card debt and racking up those ridiculous interest charges that come along with it.

11. Pay Down That Student Debt

About 70% of graduates understand the frustration of having to pay student loans. It might seem like a never-ending battle, paying month after month of your hard-earned cash to such a large debt that doesn’t seem to be diminishing. Although, this is a very important commitment that you need to make. The consequences of neglecting your student loans can be even more costly if ignored. If you are having trouble making the monthly obligation that your student loan requires, make sure you reach out to your lender to set up a payment plan that is reasonable for your budget.

Tools That Can Help

Why yes there is an app fr that! There are several apps available that can help you manage your personal finances and can help with healthy spending habits.

  1.  Mint – Best app for handling your money.
  2. Credit Karma – Best app for free credit scores and reports.
  3. You Need a Budget – Best app for getting out of debt.
  4. Wally – Best app for tracking expenses.
  5. Acorns – Best app for safe saving.
  6. Venmo – Best payment app for splitting costs with friends.

 

By Paige Knight