The financial habits you establish in your 20s, 30s and even in your 40s are likely to shape your wealth outlook for the rest of your life. The following are some simple money management tips to help you get off on the right foot.
by Nicole Bennett Price
Be aggressive in paying off debt
With credit card interest rates averaging 15%, student loan interest rates at 5%, and interest on savings accounts around 1%, it’s easy to see how much of a wealth drain debt has become. Focus on eliminating major debt as quickly as you can for the most effective money management plan.
Pay your bills on time
Establishing good credit early on can have a positive financial impact throughout your life – from qualifying for a mortgage to getting preferred interest rates on loans and purchasing insurance.
Don’t put off saving for retirement
Thanks to the power of tax-deferred compounding, the difference between starting to save at age 25 versus waiting until you feel more financially secure can be astounding. If you’re not contributing to your employer’s plan, start today!
Build an emergency fund
Finding yourself suddenly out of work or with an unexpected financial obligation is stressful enough without the added pressure of worrying about how you’ll make ends meet. A good rule of thumb is to save enough money to cover at least six months of expenses.
Educate yourself financially
Knowledge is power; especially when it comes to managing your wealth. There is an abundance of financial information available online. If you prefer hands-on help, call or meet with a professional. Ask questions and take control of your financial future.
Use your tech savvy to save
From setting up auto-pay to ensure timely payment of your monthly bills to linking checking and savings accounts to automatically invest funds each month, let technology help make you a better saver and investor.
Increase your contribution rate
The consensus estimate of financial professionals is that we should be saving at least 15% of our pre-tax salary to our retirement plans, yet the average American is only contributing 6%. Try to close that gap a bit and you’ll be surprised at how minimally it impacts your take-home pay.
Don’t let all the financial headlines cause you to jump in and out of your investments. Because you have a long time horizon to retirement, market volatility should be far less of a concern to you than it might be for your parents’ money management plan.
Remember that you aren’t invincible
While nobody wants to imagine the worst, it’s important to protect your loved one’s future should the unexpected happen. Estate planning in your late 20s, 30s, and 40s might seem frivolous – until it’s suddenly needed.
Get advice on money management
Being financially independent doesn’t mean you can’t ask for help. Trusted advice and experienced counsel can play an important role in your long term planning.