Tips & advice on getting your finances back on track.
Happy Chinese New Year! It is the year of the pig and what better way to start the year than with a full piggy bank. If your piggy bank could be in better shape, try these twelve steps to guide you toward financial success.
1. Budget Basics
Start with a budget! Sit down every month and create or update your budget. You can’t stick to your budget if you don’t have one. Learn the basics of creating a budget here. If you struggle with a monthly budget, try setting weekly goals and track your spending more frequently until you get the hang of it. Sticking with a budget will help you save money in the long term.
2. Don’t Spend Outside Your Means
Once you have a budget, put it to good work. You know how much is going to be in your paycheck at the end of the week or month, so don’t overspend. Knowing your limits regarding your disposable income will help you make sound financial decisions on a day to day basis.
3. Emergencies happen
We all hope that emergencies won’t happen, but car repairs, broken appliances and dental work can pop up at the most inconvenient time. Putting aside money each month into an emergency fund can avert financial hardship and keep you on track with your financial plan. Keep your emergency fund in a separate account so you’re not tempted to spend it unnecessarily. Remember, you never know when the ‘Check Engine Light’ will turn on in your car.
4. Don’t abuse your credit card
Having a credit card is a great financial tool, but it can also be the cause of your financial failure. If you can’t afford to pay cash for an item, then you can’t afford it. Use your credit card as a convenience item and not a source of unlimited spending. Get a card with some great perks like travel miles, but pay it off every month. If you already have credit card debt that you are carrying from month to month, start paying off more than the minimum amount and whittling away at the balance. Overspending on a credit card can set you up to take months or even years to pay off. Don’t fall for instant gratification and overuse your credit card.
5. Keep track of your recurring bills
We all have bills due every month on the same day. Never miss a payment by setting up auto pay for as many recurring bills as you can. By paying your bills on time, you’ll avoid any sort of late fees and damaging hits to your credit score.
6. Talk about finances
It can be awkward talking with your partner or family about finances if things are not going as well. Start the conversation in a calm and unstressed moment. Don’t lay any blame, but focus on setting up a financial plan of attack your whole family can agree on. Read more on couples combining their finances and how to handle financial infidelity.
7. SMART Goal Setting
Setting a financial goal will not only help you with financial success, but also personal success. With an end goal in mind, you will be more determined to achieve financial success. Break your goal down into small bites or mini-goals, and celebrate the small achievements along the way. You can learn more about setting SMART goals here.
8. Destroy your current debt
Working towards your financial goals should include paying down your current debts. Include debt repayment in your budget. Make it a priority to focus on destroying your debts by paying more than the minimum payment each month.
9. Say no occasionally
Part of honoring your budget and your financial future is saying “No” to that work happy hour on Friday. You don’t always have to say no, but schedule one ‘no-spend’ weekend a month to help stay on budget or pay off extra debt.
10. Start Saving
If you don’t already have a savings account, start one. Saving even a small amount on a regular basis will add up over time. Automate your savings the way you automate your bills. “Pay Yourself First” with a regular amount of money, moved into a separate account each pay day, then forget about it. Let that money accumulate over time and it will be there when you need it. This savings money should be accounted for in your budget.
11. Keep track of your spending
Keep an eye on your bank account and your spending habits. You might start to notice all the morning coffee runs adding up. A critical eye on your spending behaviors may expose areas that you can cut back on painlessly, leading to a fatter piggy bank. Beware of life-style inflation; don’t let that hard earned raise evaporate in extra spending. Keep your lifestyle at a similar level and use your extra income to pay down your debt and save more.
12. Don’t Stress
Becoming financially successful is a long term project, not a weekend endeavor. Keep your financial stress to a minimum by setting reasonable and actionable goals, backed up with consistent effort. Having a financial plan will allow you to stress less and enjoy your life more. If you need help creating a budget or your debt feels overwhelming, try a credit counseling session. Navicore can help get you on a sound financial path. Call 1-800-992-4557 or get started here.
Financial success is a long journey. You will not see results right away, but be patient and consistent. These twelve steps should help you fill up your piggy bank throughout the Chinese Year of the Pig.
Katherine Fatta is the Social Media Coordinator at Navicore Solutions. She creates fun and informative social media posts that engage the public.