Keeping your finances on track isn’t always easy, especially if you have a family or past debts such as student loans. It can be difficult to make sure your money is going to the right places every month; many families have to make tough decisions about whether they can spend money on entertainment or pay the bills on time, while others owe so much to credit card companies that they can barely stay afloat.
Staying financially fit is a hard job made even more difficult by the fact that the cost of living doesn’t always line up with our salaries. Thinking about planning for your kids’ futures–and for your own retirement–can be incredibly stressful, and can even lead to depression. Learning how to stay on track when it comes to how much you’re spending and saving can be really beneficial in so many ways; keep reading for some great tips on how to get started.
List your debts
You probably have a good idea of where your debt lies; for many people, it’s mostly credit cards and student loans. However, you may be surprised after listing each debt and the amount owed on a piece of paper. Having a general idea of your finances and seeing them in front of you are two very different things, and it’s important to have a good handle on everything you owe, from department store credit cards to medical bills.
Create a budget
Creating a budget is always a little harder than it sounds, especially if you have a large family. The best way to get started is to look at your monthly expenditures first; go through your checking account and look for recurring charges. Add up everything you spend in a month and compare it to your income, then look for ways you can save money on each of those items. Gas, for instance, can be a huge expense if you live far away from work or have to shuttle the kids to and from school and activities. Carpooling, using public transportation, and riding a bike are all great ways to save money there (and they are much better for the environment). If you enjoy eating out often, cut back by taking your lunch to work or school, and maybe save one night a week for a dinner splurge.
Set a goal
It can be really easy to keep spending the way you have been if you don’t have a goal set. What is the most important financial goal for you? If it’s saving for your child’s college fund or buying a new house, start a savings account specifically with that in mind. Be realistic when setting your goal, and look at your budget to see how much you can sock away each payday without it affecting you negatively for the month.
Look at life insurance
No one wants to imagine that one day they won’t be with their families, but making sure you have a great life insurance policy can factor into your financial wellness and sustain your loved ones even after you’re gone. Not only that, you can sell it to help pay for your retirement down the road if that becomes necessary and if your life insurance policy is no longer beneficial to you or your loved ones.
Staying on track financially takes some work, but there are ways to do it without creating stress and heartache for you and your family. A good plan can go a long way, so talk to a financial advisor to figure out the best ways to save and make responsible decisions.