Financial success is a common aspiration. There’s nothing quite like knowing that you’re debt free, paying bills on time, and building a savings that contributes to a secure financial future. But how do you get from where you are now to financial stability?
We’ve all been in bad situations (debt, mounting bills, and a lack of savings), it’s a starting point – not a finishing one. The goal is to walk yourself through the bad, into a good and secure situation.
The short answer to how to accomplish this is planning, and this article is going to go through ten key elements of this planning, to help you financially succeed. It’s time you start preparing for the future, it’s time to stop procrastinating!
1. Use your bank account to force you to save
Do you have savings goals but still seem to struggle to avoid spending what you have? Consider automated deposits to savings accounts. The simple act of removing the money from your instant reach goes a long way towards curbing your spending, and really is a quick way to grow your savings.
2. Snowball your debt!
The snowball approach to dealing with debt is this, attack the smallest debt first, get rid of it, and then move on to the next smallest – until there’s no debt left. The idea behind doing the smallest first is twofold; first, small debt is easier to get rid of (faster), and two, this provides a sense of accomplishment (having already paid off card X, Y, and Z, you now just have card ZA left).
As each debt is paid, remove that credit line from your life, knowing you will not need to fall back on wracking it up like this again. This is a really strong attack to existing debt, and can help you pay it off even sooner than you thought you could. It also really attacks the living by credit philosophy that hurts so many of us in the long run.
3. Be a bargain hunter
Shop the sales. Hunt for discount vouchers. Drive to the extra store if it means a better deal. This is an easy way to save money, without needing to make serious life changes. Simply bargain hunting is a great way to cut a lot of spending, and you’ll be shocked at just how much those vouchers and flyer deals can save!
4. Regularly assess your financial situation.
How is your savings account? Are you overspending? Is your partner on the same financial page that you are right now? Plan for regular self assessments to keep your spending habits and saving habits in check, at least once every three months is best.
Another benefit of assessing this regularly is that you don’t really give yourself time to get back into the trouble that started all this mess, and it really encourages you to seriously look at how you spend. Could you be taking your lunch? Do you have to take a taxi or can you walk? These are the types of questions that will regularly come up at spending assessments, and they’re GREAT ways to encourage yourself to save.
5. Forget about buying on the spot, resist the impulse
Impulse buys are one of the biggest draws on our bank accounts, and need to be curbed. If you really want that shirt today, you can afford to take the evening and see if you actually want it tomorrow. Take the time to think about what you’re spending, it really makes a huge difference.
Having trouble with impulsive buying? Consider going cash only. Forcing yourself to pass someone money makes you look at just how quickly it’s leaving your hands, a huge motivator to spend responsibly.
Spending more responsibly involves planning, and that involves careful consideration before a buy. Curb impulsive buying today!
6. Make an investment every single year, regardless of the amount
People who are successful have a few things in common, and one of these things is that they regularly invest their money. Whether putting your nest egg away to earn higher interest rates, or saving $50 this week and putting into a term deposit, regular, annual investing can really add up over time (even if you only “afford” small amounts initially).
7. Skip the card
People have become ridiculously reliant on credit cards, both as a payment method and as a lifestyle choice. Credit cards may seem like a great idea, but the truth of the matter is they’re just convenient invitations to spend money that you don’t yet have. This is exactly how you get into debt that climbs out of control, and cards should be avoided at all costs.
If you’re going to have an emergency card, shop around, make sure you’re getting the lowest interest rates possible and that it’s possible for you to make payments easily. And don’t constantly increase your limit either, the more money you have sitting there the more tempting it will be to use it.
8. Use separate bank accounts for separate budgeting purposes
For those of us having trouble with overspending, separating bank accounts can be a great way to force ourselves to take a hard look at our finances. While it’s true that you may just have been paid, forcing yourself to take your expenses money and put it aside shows you exactly what you actually have to spend – and don’t forget to save.
Separate your accounts by purpose, one for expenses, one for social outings and spending, and one for fuel and miscellaneous everyday costs. This can go a long way to organising yourself into saving.
9. Prepare for the worst
People go all too often without a stash of cash for emergencies. While it may seem like you can’t afford to have this emergency stash, the reality is that you can’t afford not to have it. If you’re suddenly hit with a lay off, or a job loss, what would happen to your bills next month? Don’t just rely on savings, separate your savings from your emergency funds, your war chests (as they’re commonly called).
10. File that paperwork!
Even though I haven’t specified a type, I bet you have one in mind as soon as you read that statement. Have you been putting off getting life insurance? Stalling setting up automatic deposits? Maybe even avoiding paying bills on time? Stop it. The only person who can stop this kind of procrastinating behavior is you. You need to get the little administrative tasks completed, before they build up and you end up paying things like late fees, or being unprepared for life emergencies.
Do you have any tips to add to this list? SHARE with us in the comments below.
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