A growing number of Americans have relatively little or no savings. Part of the reason for this problem is that the cost of living has continued to rise while wages have remained stagnant. Now more than ever, it’s important for you to take charge of your spending and saving habits to improve your financial health and achieve all your goals for the future.
Your credit score can have a big impact on your monthly expenses. If you have poor credit, you may end up paying a lot more than you need to for some of your most basic expenses, and it may hold you back from certain opportunities. In order to get affordable rates to lease or buy a car, you’ll need to have relatively good credit. Likewise, the interest rates that you pay on your credit cards may be subject to having a good credit score. It’s also necessary to consider that qualifying for an apartment or even a job may hinge on your credit rating. If you haven’t checked out your credit score in a while, you need to find out where you stand. Make it a point to pay your outstanding obligations consistently every month so you can maintain a good score. Avoid overutilizing credit cards; try to keep your credit use at or below thirty percent of your available credit limit. Also, prioritize paying off any delinquent accounts or accounts that have gone into collections. Removing negative marks from your credit report will help give your score a significant boost.
Even if you’re comfortable with your current income and don’t feel like you're struggling to keep up with expenses, you have to be conscientious about how you spend. Create a monthly budget that accounts for all of your most essential expenditures and also factors in the average cost of your nonessential spending activities. Be sure to avoid overspending month after month. If you see that you’ve hit your monthly limit, you need to refrain from purchases that aren’t truly essential. Ultimately, you have to put the things that you need before the things that you want in order to avoid overspending, accumulating debt and to improve your financial health. There are lots of budgeting apps and tools online to use.
A lot of people don’t have anything saved for retirement when they’re well into their forties or fifties. In reality, your twenties is the ideal time to start thinking about retirement. This is crucial in order to improve your financial health. While retirement may seem a long way off to someone who is just starting off in his or her career and may have outstanding student loan debt, it’s important to factor retirement savings into how you shape your financial goals early on. If you’re a couple of decades past your twenties and despondent about your lack of preparation, don’t remain paralyzed about the situation. Take decisive action to start saving for retirement. If you work for a company that has any type of retirement savings option with a matching contribution, you should contribute as much as the company is willing to match. Putting in any lesser amount would be like passing up on free money.
In addition to retirement savings, you should have a separate savings account that you can have access to if you need it. Withdrawing money from a retirement account such as an IRA may be difficult and carry a considerable wait time or even a penalty. You need a rainy day fund with liquidity that you can access immediately. In the event of a sudden loss of income or unforeseen expense, this type of savings will keep you afloat and help you avoid serious hardship. While all of your monthly expenses combined may leave very little breathing room, it’s essential that you make a concerted effort to save some of your income every month. Your goal should be to put away enough money so that you can support yourself for about six months. Don’t dip into these savings to splurge on non-essential expenses.
Paying attention to your credit, being conservative with spending, and staying focused on what you need to do to save are essential elements to good financial health. You can’t change your finances overnight, but staying committed to your goals will generate strong results over time.