A beginner’s guide to achieving financial success
Entering the workforce can be intimidating and understanding how to manage finances can add an extra burden. While overwhelming, it’s important to get off on the right financial foot to avoid costly mistakes later in life.
October is National Financial Planning Month which makes it a great time to create a concrete budget and plan. This should factor in new expenses (such as utility bills and rent), student debt repayment, while also ensuring money is put aside for savings. Below are a few tips for managing a financial plan:
Determine expenses: Creating a budget will show how to successfully live within your means. A budget should factor in new expenses, debt and savings. Start by finding out your net income and tracking spending, once you understand how much is coming in compared to going out, you can make a plan with goals and adjust habits as needed. Having a monthly, weekly or daily spending budget can act as a guide to remind you when to cut back.
Avoid constrains of debt: Once you have determined expenses, it’s important to factor in paying off debt. This includes having a strategy to pay off any student loans over time. In addition, tread cautiously when using credit cards, they may be helpful to build credit but can be dangerous if you aren’t careful. Don’t have the mindset that credit cards can supplement overspending. Consider purchasing decisions carefully and only spend when you know you have the funds to pay off debt balances.
Accumulate savings: When first starting out, saving may seem unattainable between expenses and paying down debt, but it is a crucial part of financial wellness. Set an attainable savings goal to get in the habit of putting money away and as you increase earnings, increase savings. If offered, consider enrolling in your company sponsored retirement plan, such as a 401(k). Contributions to a 401(k) are tax-deductible and grows tax deferred. Also, consider saving in a rainy day fund to protect from unforeseen expenses. Part of a realistic financial plan is understanding how long it will take to have a solid emergency fund but it is also a key element of a secure financial plan.
A financial plan can help to establish good financial habits now, which can set you up for a successful future.