People who are serious about improving their physical health know that it requires effort and a series of small steps taken over time. It’s much the same with improving your financial health.
Here are some steps you can take to start or continue your journey to financial wellness.
Look for Savings in Your Day-to-Day Spending
Controlling day-to-day spending is a good first step in achieving your financial goals. Consider skipping that drive-through coffee and minimizing the number of times you get take-out for dinner each week. Creating a budget can help you find opportunities to save and spend less than you earn. While these savings may seem small, they can add up quickly over time.
Additionally, think outside the box and look for some not-so-obvious places where you can pay less for products and services. Switching to a low-rate credit card or a different cell phone or cable provider could result in big savings. Also consider reviewing your energy provider. Many states, including Michigan, give consumers the ability to choose their preferred supplier, allowing you to look for the best deal.
Build an Emergency Savings Fund
Having an emergency savings fund allows you to handle unexpected expenses such as a sudden auto repair or job loss, without taking on debt. This money should be easily accessible with enough to cover three to nine months of take-home pay, depending on your circumstances.
Check out this article, Build an Emergency Savings While Saving for Retirement, for suggestions to build your emergency fund through supplemental savings options such as a 457 Program or IRA.
Manage Your Debt
If a large part of your income is going to pay off credit cards and loans, it will be tough to build financial progress. Make it a financial goal to pay down high-interest consumer debt as quickly as possible. Also, consider making extra payments to your debts, as it will result in a quicker payoff timeline.
There are other debt management strategies, such as debt consolidation and settlement. The key is to figure out what works best for you. For more information on debt and prioritization, read this article called Understanding and Overcoming Debt.
Planning for the future is the last step in finding your financial foothold. Planning should include long-term goals, such as retirement savings, while also ensuring that you’re covered if an unfortunate life event happens prior to retirement.
The earlier you set aside money for retirement, the more time your money will have to grow. If you have any type of employer-provided retirement plan, consider increasing your contributions. Affordable and consistent contributions will better prepare you for life in retirement.
Additionally, having enough life and disability insurance coverage in place is a key to achieving financial wellness. A disability income insurance policy can help you pay household bills and meet other financial obligations if you become disabled and can’t work. Life insurance can also help protect your loved ones from financial hardship.
Each person’s financial priorities will differ depending on their unique situation. Prioritizing your financial goals by managing daily expenses, reducing debt, establishing an emergency savings account and planning for the future is a sound strategy. By following these steps, you will be closer to achieving financial security. Use this Financial Goals Worksheet to get started.