A lot of people think that by making more money, they will get into a better financial position. This could be true in some situations but it’s not always the case. Imagine that a young kid is having trouble improving his skills in the minor league. Assuming that more money leads to financial stability is like saying that moving this kid into the major league will improve his skills. Obviously, that is not true. He must first master his skills while in the minor league to have a change to move up. Financial stability requires more than a decent income; in fact, did you know that 70 percent of the people who win the lottery go broke within a few years? – it [financial stability] requires careful planning, budgeting, discipline, delayed gratification.
Search Google and you will find a lot of ideas and techniques related to how to achieve a position financial position in your life. Many are sound and effective. If you stay consistent with them, you will eventually reach your goals. However, while becoming financially stable could be hard for some people, it is relatively simple. Sometimes, we over complicate the process. So, this article is meant to bring it back to the basics. It may sound very simple to you, but it is intentional. You can’t be stable financially if you do not implement the following two principles in your life. Before we get to the hard work, let’s get smart.
Make a clear budget.
Taking a smarter approach to your finances starts with a clear budget, as we’ve discussed before. You need to know how much of your monthly income is being spent, how and where. It’s important that you track your expenses as to be sure that you are not in the red. These days, it is common for consumers to use their credit cards exclusively and pay them off at the end of the month. Although this is a smart practice for several reasons (protecting against fraud on your checking account, accumulating reward points, etc.), it is easy to spend more than you would if you were depleting your debit card cash. As suggested over at parents.com, you can start with a commerce purge. You need to look at all the unnecessary expenses that debit your account on a monthly basis. Subscriptions to magazines or gym memberships you never use are examples of things that should go. If you have a tendency to splurge on things you never use, then practice the 30-day rule. Delay for a few weeks and if you still want to buy something in 30 days then you can allow yourself the luxury; if you forget about the item in question then you’ll have saved yourself a wasted purchase.
Of course, not all expenses are non-essential. You can also reduce as much as you can the cost of some of the necessities you need in life. For example, you could reduce the cost of your energy bill by using advanced power strips, by purchasing energy efficient electronics and products, by investing in space heating and cooling systems that will save you money in the long run. Making a big purchase soon? Make sure you shop around and look for potential deals. Exercising patience and waiting just a couple weeks could save you hundreds of dollars.
For millennials, credit card debt and student loan debt make a huge dent in the budget. Although there is not a lot of flexibility with those bills, it is worth looking at options that could save you money. There are companies such as studentloansconsolidation.co that do the hard work of finding solutions for you when it comes to consolidating for instance. Again, in your case, it may not be the right move but to be financially stable, keep your options open.
We’ve talked about reducing expenses to protect your money, but the other aspect of improving your financial situation is saving your money. From emergency funds to future planning, it is important to allocate a portion of your income to savings. A blown tire, a medical bill, a trip to see family or a home improvement project should not wreck your finances. You can’t predict everything in life, but you can set aside money in the event of costly events. With a safety net in place, you won’t have to worry about unexpected scenarios waiting around the corner. As suggested over at briantracy.com, you need to start setting aside a little bit of your income on a regular basis. You could set up an automatic transfer of funds to your savings account to take place every payday; that way, you won’t be tempted to spend your money before you can save it. Personally, I like to be hands on with my budget. When I get paid, I immediately transfer a percentage of my paycheck to my savings account. Find what works for you.
Also, as a millennial, you may not be thinking about this, but you won’t be working forever. You need to make sure that you’ve secured a respectable amount of wealth to sustain you when a consistent source of income is missing.
This article was meant to bring it back to the basics of money management: budgeting and saving. I hope you’ve learned from it and that you will immediately start applying these two skills.
***This article may contain affiliate links.