The best time to start budgeting and planning for your financial future is, well, yesterday. Young adults can be especially lax when it comes to planning and budgeting. Though it seems like they have long to go before they need to have a set plan, this isn’t the case.
By creating a solid financial plan earlier rather than later, you’re setting yourself up for success. You can get an idea about where to start with just a few key financial planning tips.
Finance planning can be complicated and confusing, but it doesn’t have to be! Start here by checking out these need-to-know tips. If you want to have a secure, successful financial future, we’ll give you an idea of how you can get there.
1. Set Goals
The only way to reach your goals is to set them. Without establishing specific big and small goals, it’s much harder to reach them. Small goals allow you to work in the short-term for something that should help you achieve a larger goal.
Be realistic with yourself, but don’t be afraid to aim high! Financial planning is all about making goals a reality.
2. Create a Financial Calander
The best way to see all your finances in one place is by creating a financial calendar. Here you should write down when all of your bills are due, and for how much. Insurance, phone bills, utilities, mortgage or rent payments, any subscriptions or automatic bills, as well as many others, should all be added to your calendar.
3. Use Earned Wage Access
Earned wage access allows you to receive money for hours you’ve worked before your boss has sent out paychecks. For those who are struggling check to check, or in need of quick emergency cash, this is a great option.
The best part? There are no loans required. Forget about those insane interest rates you can’t pay back. By using earned wage access you get the boost you may need, without damaging your finances too much.
4. Track Your Spending
If you don’t even realize you’re spending hundreds of bucks a month on takeout, how are you supposed to regulate that spending? Take time to evaluate your current financial situation, including what you tend to spend your money on.
Take the average of some common purchase categories like food, entertainment, and shopping from the last 3 months and see if you can par down and allocate those funds somewhere more useful.
5. Start an Emergency Fund
If you don’t have an emergency fund already, you need one. Unexpected expenses can be detrimental when we’re on a tight budget, or even just trying to stick to a basic one. Alleviate the stress that comes with a flat tire, lay off, unexpected medical bills, or home repairs by investing some of your income each month.
Experts say you should have at least 3 to 6 months of living expenses saved in your emergency fund. If you don’t have much to put in right now, do what you can. Even a few dollars here and there can add up!
6. Build Your Credit—Responsibly
Getting a credit card can be a scary step for first-time users because of all the horror stories we’ve heard about credit card debt. But if you don’t have one yet, look into one with the best interest rate and perks that fit your lifestyle.
Credit cards are imperative for building your credit so you can apply for houses, cars, and other big purchases or expenses later in life. However, you want to make sure that you’re using them responsibly. Always pay more than the minimum balance due, if not, that’s a good way to get trapped into growing credit card debt.
Don’t think you have it in you to use a credit card at the moment? Switch over to an all-cash payment method. This way, you know exactly where and when you’re spending all your money. It allows you to keep track of expenses and how much money is trading hands every day. It can even be more cost-effective than credit cards in the long run.
7. Create a Retirement Fund
You’re young, there’s probably a good chance you’re not thinking about retirement yet, but you should! Retirement will creep up on you, just like those wrinkles! Start saving now to have plenty in your back pocket for your golden years.
8. Keep Good Records
The worst thing you can do for your financial health is to be lax about keeping solid records. Now, we’re not saying to hoard all your old receipts, but keeping a file folder or binder with important financial documents together can be really helpful when analyzing statements, loan information, or account numbers.
You’ve heard it once and you’ll hear it a hundred times over again, BUDGET. Budgeting your money helps you divide up your income based on categories like retirement savings, emergency savings, food, housing, school, loans, debt, and everything else. By distinctly telling yourself through your budget what percent of your income you’ll be spending, it’s much harder to spend on other things.
Your budget, in combination with your financial calendar, should be your best friend when it comes to planning your financial future. Calculate fixed expenses like rent or mortgage payments, phone bills, and utilities first. Then, create fixed payments for things you can make variable payments on, like loans and credit cards.
Treating your variable expenses like fixed payments will help eliminate frivolous spending.
10. Revisit Your Plan As You Grow
As your life changes and your career develops, you’ll want to revisit your financial plan. If you’re now making more money to allocate into your savings, up the percentage you put in every month. You should always be aiming to grow financially. Don’t get comfortable with one financial plan for too long. Adjusting it periodically will help you reach those short-term and long-term goals you set.
Financial Planning Tips In Action
Your financial future is determined by how well you follow these financial planning tips. By being diligent about saving and keeping an eye on your spending, you’re sure to get to a place where you can make big money moves. And remember, always keep a clear goal in sight.
Need more tips and information to get you through your early years of financial planning? Check out our blog for more tips like these!
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