In a time of such financial hardship, knowledge is our biggest tool. It's crucial to have a solid understanding of money matters. This is where financial education steps in as a guiding light, offering you the knowledge and skill necessary to navigate the complex landscape of personal finance. So, what do we need to know?
Let's start with the foundation of financial success: budgeting. You must create a monthly budget that outlines your income and expenses. The 50/30/20 is a popular budgeting method that suggests you set aside 50% of your monthly income for necessary expenses (rent, groceries, utilities, etc.), 30% towards wants, and 20% for debt repayment and savings. This budgeting method may only apply to some, but creating a similar structure will help you track where your money goes and ensure you live within your means.
Once you've created a strong budgeting foundation, the next step is developing a plan to build an emergency fund. An emergency fund is essential when strengthening your financial habits. This fund is to cover unexpected expenses like medical bills or car repairs. The goal is to have enough funds to cover at least three months of living expenses. Holding this fund in a separate account you don't access regularly is a good idea. A high-interest savings account will allow your fund to grow outside of your contributions!
Building a foundation for your current finances is the best way to manage your means appropriately. Making informed financial decisions as you move forward is the best way to ensure you stay on track. So, when you need a loan, it is best to avoid high-interest loans. Do this by exploring all loan options. A tip: credit unions typically offer lower interest rate loans to their members. It's a great way to get what you need without all the gotchas, and your money stays in your community, a win-win! For any existing debts, focus on paying down the highest interest rate loans first, or consider consolidating or refinancing to lower interest rates.
Now that you understand your finances well, it's time to set financial goals. Establishing clear financial goals, both short-term and long-term, helps you stay motivated and focused. These goals can include buying a home, starting a business, retiring comfortably, or whatever else your heart desires. Clear goals will set expectations for yourself to stay strong in your positive money habits. But remember, financial circumstances change, so please review your financial plan regularly and adjust as needed. This ensures that your money is working efficiently towards your goals.
Financial education isn't a luxury; it's a necessity in today's world. It empowers individuals to take control of their finances, reduce stress, and work toward their financial goals. Whether you're just starting your financial journey or looking to enhance your knowledge, investing in financial education is an investment in yourself and your future. Remember, managing your finances wisely is a lifelong journey that requires discipline and continuous learning. By following these fundamental principles of financial education, you can build a solid foundation for a secure and prosperous financial future. It's never too late to start; small steps today can lead to significant financial rewards tomorrow.
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