By Kelly Adams
Whether you love it, hate it, fear it or idolize it, we all have our own relationships with money. If your relationship with money is a good, bad or indifferent one; we have to deal with it everyday – so why not learn how your money can best serve you?
Set Financial Goals. The first step of any financial plan is identifying what you want, when you want it and what you will have to do in order to achieve it. Write down your goals and desires as you start to figure out what it takes in order to achieve them so you will have something to refer back to as you begin to plan.
Need more help setting goals in general? Read this!
Budget. Let’s honest: no one likes living on a budget. We like to spend what we want, when we want and we don’t like to feel restricted. Having a budget, however, doesn’t necessarily mean you have to limit yourself. Rather, it is a tool used to track how you are spending your money. To start, write down your total monthly income and then track all of your expenses, including any credit card debt, loans, food expenses, shopping sprees and more. After calculating all of your expenses, subtract them from your total monthly income to see how much you (ideally) have left. If need be, you can use this to set goals to cut spending or make more money.
Get Even. If your expenses are greater than your income, beyond just trying to cut down on expenses, creating other income streams is something you should also consider. Perhaps you have a talent you could monetize or items you’re no longer using that you could sell on eBay.
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Be Selfish. It’s not often we give this type of advice; but, when it comes to finances, being selfish is okay. Most importantly, never co-sign for anyone. Period. If a friend or family member asks you to co-sign a loan, just say no. As the co-signer, you are ultimately responsible for the loan and, according to Suze Orman, more often than not, the borrower will default on the payments or pay late, causing you to lose money and your credit score to fall. So, just say no out of love for yourself.
Set Up An Emergency Fund. This is, arguably, the best piece of advice we have: before paying any bills or expenses, put a certain amount of each paycheck into an emergency fund. Some of you might already be doing this, which is great! Ideally, you should have an eight-month emergency fund to protect you in the event of an unexpected job loss or other unforeseen event. If you don’t have an emergency fund yet, though, don’t get overwhelmed. It is easy to start one, just take baby steps by starting to put away what you can each month. One of the easiest ways to get started is to make saving money automatic by setting up your account to automatically deposit a portion of your paycheck into a separate savings account – even if it is just $1, the most important thing is to take action and start saving. Similarly, if your place of work has a 401(k) program, try and contribute up to the amount that they will match.
Turn to the Pros. Once you have a clear understanding of both your financial goals and where you currently stand, you may want to seek out a financial advisor, accountant or attorney to further help you solidify and reach (or exceed) your goals.
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