Struggling with money-related matters is a common situation; according to CNBC, a full 76% of Americans claim to have “at least one financial regret."
If you count yourself among this (sizable) number, you may be glad to learn that becoming better with money isn’t an impossible goal. In fact, The Everygirl recently published a list of “financial bucket list” aspirations for professionals, along with actionable steps to start you off on the right foot. Try these nine not-too-extreme ways of improving your economic position.
1. Commit yourself to becoming (and remaining) debt-free.
If you currently carry credit card debt, student loan debt, mortgage debt, or debt of any kind, then your first financial priority should involve reducing or eliminating those obligations. The Everygirl suggests looking through your annual budget to figure out where your biggest credit card expenditures are (travel? Gifts? Necessities?) and trying to set aside some savings to apply to those expenses instead of putting them on a card.
2. Don’t slack off where retirement savings are concerned.
Even if you’re several decades away from retirement, you’ll be well-served by starting your retirement fund as quickly as possible. If you have a retirement package through work (like an IRA or a 401K), see if it’s feasible to increase your contributions.
3. If possible, try to save up for home ownership.
Home ownership can easily feel like a pipe dream, particularly if you’re a renter in a pricey urban area. But financial experts regularly claim that property represents the best form of investment, so if it’s within your means, do what you can to set aside a nest egg for an eventual home purchase.
4. Familiarize yourself with the miles and points offered by stores and through business travel.
This may seem like a contradictory piece of advice, since we just told you to avoid carrying credit card debt. But The Everygirl posits this option in reference to business travel and reward points at stores you visit: “If my “stay debt-free” plan is well constructed, I could still be thinking about how to smartly use points and rewards I could be racking up at places I shop often, or earning miles for business travel.” Become familiar with what your business account can offer you, and make use of those points.
5. Automate your payments to avoid late fees.
It’s a sad (and sadly familiar) tale: you lose track of time and totally forget about a bill payment. When you finally remember and go to pay (a day or two late), you discover a hefty late fee tacked onto your next bill. To avoid this sorry state of affairs, automate your payments by linking the bill portals with your bank account. No muss, no fuss.
6. Consider writing a will.
No one enjoys thinking about the end of their own life. However, plenty of financial issues can befall your estate and your loved ones if you don’t have a plan in place for inheritance. It’s never too early to put a plan in place in the form of a will.
7. If you want to start your own business, begin that process ASAP.
Those who dream of starting their own businesses often wait to make a move because the “timing isn’t right”. That’s legitimate...to a point. Even if you’re not yet prepared to ditch your secure full-time job to strike out on your own, you can still take small steps toward your end goal of business ownership. Setting aside some savings and upping your networking game are two solid examples of not-dramatic moves you can begin right now.
8. Budget, budget, budget!
Yes, budgeting is boring. But it’s also a crucial element of financial health. Every month (or every week), sit down with your planned income and planned expenditures and make a clear budget for yourself, which will help you keep unexpected spending at bay.
9. Don’t be afraid to invest.
If you’re not investing your money because you feel intimidated by the concept, give yourself permission to go for it. Have a conversation with an investment advisor to give you an educated perspective of which investments make the most sense for you, and start turning your money into more money.