As 2018 winds down before our eyes, now’s the time to jump on the money moves you may have previously been putting off. Don’t panic! It’s easier than you think to turn your finances around — and it won’t require that you stop spending money all together. Just like anything else, the below changes will just take some adjustment and getting used to. Take advantage of the fresh start the new year presents you and use this mindful financial advice to make the most of what may lie ahead!
1. Build an Emergency Fund
Acting as a safety net between you and the ups and downs in life, Emergency Funds are protective finances that can help you avoid falling deep into debt or taking out expensive loans. Most importantly, emergency funds create a buffer between you and the unpredicted events life hold. Having savings set aside provides you with the peace of mind knowing it’s there if you should ever need it.
Experts recommend having an emergency fund that can carry you through three to six months of expenses. But as we all know, building savings is a lot easier said than done. Start off slow and set a goal of $1,000. Once your comfortable putting money away on a regular basis and have paid down debt, you can adjust your budget to aim for a higher goal. Over time you should continue to grow your emergency savings so that it’s never completely wiped out.
2. Higher Interest Rates
If you’re not earning at least 1% interest on your savings account you’re leaving money on the table. Unfortunately, most traditional banks offer lower than 1% interest on savings accounts. No need to worry! There are plenty of online savings accounts with higher interest rates. You can do a quick online search and find one in just minutes. Once you find one that fits your needs, simply set up an online savings account and take advantage of the higher rates.
3. Create a Budget
When it comes to getting a handle of your finances, there’s nothing more critical than creating a budget. All you need to do is open up a spreadsheet on your computer, list your various expenses and compare what you’re spending to what you’re earning. If you have more money going out than coming in, it’s time you scrutinize your spending habits and cut down where possible. Take a look at your statements to determine where you are spending the most and what changes you can make to reduce those costs. For example, if you’re buying breakfast every morning before work, consider waking up earlier to make your own. These things add up and with just a few adjustments you will really start to see a difference in how far you can stretch your paycheck. You may even consider earning some extra income on the side. Check out these work from home jobs that can help increase your monthly income. If you find that you have some money leftover at the end of each month, this is the money you should start putting away towards your Emergency Savings.
4. Review Your Credit
Credit Scores. A simple number we all have attached to our names that can pack a big punch. Your score can take years to build up and just months to destroy. Do you know yours? If not, you can get your free credit score with this service. Maintaining good credit is something we should all strive for. It is in our benefit to do the best we can in monitoring our score. Most big purchases require decent credit and a low credit score will increase your interest rates, lower credit lines and prevent you from achieving certain goals or milestones.
5. Secure Proper Insurance
Life insurance is an essential part of your personal finances and holding a policy can provide tremendous benefits. Many experts recommend life insurance as an investment strategy and considering it costs less than your daily coffee, it’s worth every penny. Some life insurance policies accumulate a cash value and a portion of your paid premium can be invested in the market or set aside to accumulate interest. The cash value of your policy can be used as collateral and be borrowed against or kept as an end-of-life payout. Equip yourself with essential knowledge and determine if Life Insurance is the right move for you and your family. Find out 4 Reasons Why You Need Life Insurance & How To Buy It.
6. Have a Retirement Plan
The sooner you start saving for retirement the longer your money has to grow. If your employer offers a 401(k) with a match on your contributions, that’s the first place to start. You’ll get an instant 100% return on part of the money you invest in your 401(k). Your money will automatically be taken from your paycheck, so you don’t even have to think about saving. Plus, it’s deducted prior to being taxed so more of it can go to your retirement instead of the government. If you don’t have a 401(k) option at work, a Roth IRA may be a good fit for you. Many professionals even recommend having both investment accounts as they complement each other.