Do you have any financial resolutions for this new year? If you do, you’re in the majority. According to a survey by the National Endowment for Finance Education, saving money and debt concerns are a top concern for 1 out of 3 Americans. 2020 has been a year of financial setbacks, job loss and economic turmoil. Despite this, it is never a bad time to examine your finances and figure out every single way to improve and increase. If you’re in a position right now where you are living paycheck to paycheck and desire the need for financial stability, here are quick tips to getting you back on track to good financial health.
- Make saving and debt paying goals
Before you can do anything to amass wealth, you need to have the funds first. Yes, investing in a Roth IRA and 401(k) is smart, yes, investing in index funds and reliable stocks is smart, but you cannot do that without expendable income. Set goals for yourself. They don’t have to be 100% set in stone, because of course life happens, but write it down somewhere. For example, set a goal that in the next 6 months you want to save an “x” amount of money. Or, by the end of the year, you want “x%” of debt paid off. Then, once you get a place where you are seeing debt paid off, and you are able to slowly save a certain amount of your income, make it a point to set aside money for future investing. Save money at a cadence that you feel the most comfortable and able to do, and keep in mind that there may some weeks where you have to spend on essential things, so don’t get upset with yourself if you’re not completely on track, just document it, be aware of it, and course correct later.
- Invest in financial institutions that are invested in YOU
An institution where you are keeping your hard earned money is one that you should trust wholeheartedly with your funds. Some banks are not the best fit for everyone’s interests and needs. Think about the option of opening a free checking account with a credit union. Credit unions are not-for-profit and are tied by community, faith or culture, so there is a deep value for customers and they tend to truly have your best interests. If you do come from, or have a bad financial history, credit unions are a lot more forgiving. They tend to have high interest deposits and savings accounts and low interest loans.
- Track your spending habits, and understand them
There are a wide variety of free apps that can help you track your spending. Check out NerdWallet’s list of the best of 2021 to find one that matches your goals better. These apps have a sophisticated way of where you spend the majority of your money, your daily, weekly and monthly patterns, while providing you recommendations on where to cut back. However, it’s not enough that you simply track what you spend on. You need to consciously use check these weekly or monthly and understand the intention behind your purchases. This is where you switch your thinking from analytical, to slightly more emotional. Do you tend to spend more when you’re feeling a certain way? What items or events do you tend to splurge on more when you shouldn’t and why?
The road to financial recovery and prosperity isn’t just a numbers game, it requires a lot of self-introspection and self awareness. Set goals and consistently work at them, but be kind and honest with yourself. Remember that you’re not alone. Millions of Americans are in the same boat as you, but just know that there are viable solutions and resources available to you to make your financial goals a reality.