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When it comes to saving, investing, or getting your finances in order, the process can often feel daunting.
You may find yourself waiting for the next big life event or pushing off the process until the next month or the New Year. You might be unsure of where to start, or perhaps you feel like you’re lacking in resources or professional advice.
Regardless of where your uncertainty stems from, we encourage you to pause, evaluate your current situation, and put at least one proactive money practice into process. There is no better time than now to develop habits that will help with both your short-term and long-term finance goals.
To encourage you to get started, we’ve compiled five tips that you can get to work on today.
1. Establish a budget – Do you have a handle on what you’re spending – and where it’s going – each month? If you don’t have this on paper or within a digital app, it’s the perfect place to start.
For a general rule of thumb, organize your spending into three categories that ladder up to your total income.
First, your necessary expenses (e.g., housing, transportation, loans, etc.). Second, consider the categories for which you should be saving (e.g., retirement, education fund, etc.). And lastly, the remaining amount can be used for enjoyment. After all, you’re meant to enjoy this life!
By laying out this information, you have a clear picture of where your money should be going each month in order to maintain a positive financial status. Be sure to check with your community bank regarding any budgeting programs or assistance they may offer.
2. Stay on top of your credit card spending – Credit cards certainly have positives (like reward programs); however, they can contribute to deep financial troubles. The best practice to start now is paying off your balance in full each month. If you’re unable to do this, pay as much as you can (always more than the minimum payment) to reduce the balance and interest you’re being charged.
3. Take advantage of company match programs – Does your workplace offer a 401(k) or similar savings program with a company match? Take advantage of this right now! This is one of the easiest ways to maximize your overall savings.
We encourage you to, at minimum, contribute the maximum amount for which your company will match. Extra tip: Have this money automatically deducted from your paycheck so you aren’t tempted to spend it elsewhere.
4. Utilize savings programs offered by your community bank – Check with your community bank (or find one near you) to see if they offer any special savings programs. For example, leading up to the holiday season, many will offer Holiday or Christmas Club accounts where you can start advance savings for holiday spending.
Even if you choose a small amount to contribute each month, this will help build your savings and offset the costs during timeframes (like the holidays) where you tend to spend more.
5. Manage your monthly subscriptions – Monthly subscriptions – like grocery delivery services, streaming networks, and more – offer convenience for many, and while we’re not suggesting you eliminate them completely, we encourage you to make a list of similar programs you’re paying for each month.
Most of these services are a manageable fee, but they add up. Take inventory of what you pay for, what you actually need or like, and what could be eliminated.