There’s no better time to improve your financial habits than right now. Start saving for retirement, begin a college fund or finally pay off your credit card. Building habits today that make you financially secure gives you the ability to achieve long-term goals - not to mention that added perk of lowering your money-related stress.
Here are a few money management habits you can begin doing today to set yourself up for a better financial future.
1. Set a budget and stick to it
Sit down and create a monthly or yearly budget. Figure out how much you bring in every year and what you would like to spend without going into debt. Organize your monthly bills and prioritize your needs and wants. There are a lot of methods and tools available to create and track your budget, but a simple excel spreadsheet works well too. If you'd like to reinforce some of your financial habits, you can use Marine Bank's Goals Tool in digital banking to set up your financial goals.
Do your future self a favor by building a savings plan into your budget. Incorporating savings in your budget allows for emergencies and/or large purchases. At Marine Bank, you can use your debit card to automatically help you save money through our Common Cents Program. Every time you use your Marine Bank debit card, your purchase is rounded up to the next dollar and the difference is transferred from your checking account into your savings account.
2. Create a plan to reduce your debt
Start by making a list of all of your debt payments. One easy way to stay organized is to prioritize your debts in order of the number of payments left until it’s paid off. Put the bill with the fewest payments at the top of the list. Another strategy is to make a list of debt payments in order of highest to lowest interest rate. This puts a focus on paying off debt with the highest interest rate first. However you choose to do organize your list, paying down your debts gives you less financial stress.
Avoid late fees and protect your credit score by paying your bills on time and paying off any credit cards completely. Leaving a balance on your card costs more due to interest and other finance charges. Only use credit cards when you know you will have the funds to pay the balance completely when the bill arrives. Another part of being financially fit is to keep track of your credit score. Learn more about how to improve your credit score here.
3. Start an emergency fund
Life happens. You need to be prepared when it does. We don’t plan to have health issues, car accidents or for appliances to break down. Instead of maxing out a credit card or emptying your regular savings account, have an emergency savings set aside to ease your mind when unforeseen disasters happen.
4. Start saving for retirement or college
It’s never too early to start saving for retirement or your child’s higher education. There are several options at Marine Bank when it comes to saving for your future. We offer both traditional IRAs (Individual Retirement Account) and Roth IRAs.
College is expensive so the sooner you begin saving the better. Setting up a specific savings account dedicated to college expenses is the easiest way to get started.
For whichever life milestone you are saving, a contribution as little as $25 or $50 a month makes a difference. Determine what’s affordable and remember savings plans can always be adjusted.
Practicing healthy money management habits isn't hard, but it requires long-term consistent effort. Be mindful about saving and spending so you can be financially safe. Starting smart financial habits will be hard at the beginning, but in the long run it will be worth the security and decreased stress.
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