Sometimes, financial management gets complicated. The jargon alone can be intimidating, from IRAs and CDs, to equities and annuities. It can help to pause a moment, go back to basics and simply make sure you have the essentials covered — like these five.
Build a Budget
More than two-thirds of people have financial concerns — and no wonder, since only 39 percent have a budget and track their spending.1 If you don’t know where your money is going, it’s hard to feel confident that you have enough funds to meet your needs.
To start your budget, list your income and expenses — including fixed costs like rent or mortgage, and periodic costs like car repairs. Remember to allot money for savings, as well as for fun, like eating out and entertainment. Review your budget regularly and make changes as necessary.
Set Up Automated Savings
A sound financial foundation is built upon savings. And the easiest way to save is to “pay yourself first” by setting money aside before you can spend it. Setting up automatic deductions from every paycheck straight into your savings account makes this a snap.
Create an Emergency Fund
What happens if you lose your job? Or you’re faced with unexpected medical bills — or a major home repair? Without an emergency fund, you could be facing unwanted debt or worse. That’s why experts recommend saving up enough money to cover at least six months of regular expenses; and some suggest a year’s worth. You can start with the funds in a regular savings account, but as your fund grows, consider moving it to a money market, where you can typically earn higher interest rates.
Save for Retirement
A surprising 34 percent of people have no money saved for retirement.1 That’s a crowd you don’t want to be in. If you haven’t already started contributing to a 401(k) or IRA, now is the time. It’s okay to start small — even $5 or $10 per month is better than nothing. Then increase the amount as you can. Ideally, you want to eventually make the maximum contributions allowed for your particular retirement account. As with a regular savings account, automatic contributions can help you stay on track.
Set Goals and Make Plans
It’s one thing to say that you want to save $10,000 or want to get out of debt. But if you don’t make a plan to achieve those goals, you’re far less likely to achieve them. Take the time to break your goals into specific steps, with time frames attached. For instance, maybe you want to be debt-free in five years. To get there, you’re going to reassess your budget, looking for places you can cut back on spending, and then apply those savings to pay down your balances faster.
Get Help When You Need It
You never have to tackle your financial decisions alone. Whether you’re trying to find the best savings account for your needs, or you want to set up automatic paycheck deductions, reduce debt or build a retirement fund, we can help. Visit your local branch
for a personal discussion with a friendly Rabobanker!
- “Simple Ways to Boost Your Savings,” Nanci Hellmich, USA Today, posted Aug. 21, 2014, accessed May 17, 2015
“10 Simple Steps to Financial Security Before 30,” Ken Hawkins, Investopedia.com, http://www.investopedia.com/articles/younginvestors/08/generation-y.asp, accessed Apr. 27, 2015
The information contained in this article is intended for general educational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal, tax, or financial advice. Please consult with your own legal, tax or financial advisor for guidance with your own particular circumstances.