Building financial security is all about finding that balance between planning for the future and living a comfortable lifestyle today. It’s never too late to turn your financial health around and the more committed to a healthy financial life you become today, the more security you can build for the future. Adopt these habits today to set yourself for a solid financial future.
Start budgeting…and never stop!
The key to any type of financial success is creating and maintaining a budget. When I first decided to become debt-free and set a wealth-building goal, I created a simple budget in an excel spreadsheet. For weeks, I tracked my income and expenses. I started to see where my money was going and that allowed me to tweak how my money worked for me. Before I knew it, weeks had turned into months and then months into years. It has been five years since I started living on a budget and I am never turning back. As I move towards a debt-free life, I can spend a little more in areas that were previously a small budget line item. If you’ve never lived on a budget before, it is helpful to have someone walk you through the experience. Call (800) 642-2227 and a Financial Advocate will get you started.
Once you have a budget established you can start making your finances behave with the future in mind. Here are three more lifestyle choices that can make a large impact on your future.
One Week Away isn’t Worth Your Life Savings
My family loves to travel and see new places but all that traveling can really break the bank. Until we reach our financial goals, we make wise choices like 3-star hotels over 5-stars, camping over resorts and preparing our own meals as much as possible while on the road. When you decide to go on a trip, give yourself enough time to do some proper planning. Browse the internet for the best deals possible and consider cost-effective options such as Airbnb. Every few years my family wants to go on a vacation we know won’t be cheap, like the big Disney trip we are planning for this winter. Whenever we plan something this big, we set two rules. One, we never charge the vacation on a credit card. If we cannot pay for the vacation in advance, we do not go until we have saved the money. Two, we have to be in the same general financial position when we return as we were when we left. Following these rules helps us make wise choices when we travel and staves off any travel regret when we get home.
Actively Control Impulse Purchases
You know it’s going to happen. That item is going to go on sale that you just have to have. You know, that thing that will make your life so much better! I get it – I have those moments all the time, and for a while, I was giving in to those impulses. The ability to have that perfect, but excessive, item shipped to my house for free in two days made it even easier to fall prey to this spending problem. To combat the impulse spending, my family set a dollar limit on purchases that were outside our normal budget. Anything over the dollar limit requires one nights’ sleep and at least a five-minute discussion. When something online really catches my eye but it’s over my impulse purchase dollar limit, I add it to my cart and then discuss the purchase with my spouse and I never buy it until the next morning. If I still want it the next day, then I go ahead and make the purchase. When I started doing this, I only bought about half of the things I added to my cart.
“New to You” is still New
Shopping second hand as much as possible is a great habit to get into; for your budget and the planet! With apps like Letgo and Facebook Marketplace, there are very few things you can’t find for sale second hand. Most areas have wonderful consignment shops where you can buy clothing and accessories in great condition. I have two children and I have only bought them 6 new clothing items – except underwear, of course!
When you develop healthy financial habits, the benefits are immediate but the true reward is in your future. Being disciplined with your money take practice and commitment and is much easier if you don’t do it alone. A Financial Advocate at CCCSMD can help you set the best course for your financial future.