Thinking about your finances can seem like uncomfortable territory – or maybe it’s a sensitive subject, but it certainly needs to be addressed. While I’m no financial advisor, I think there are steps everyone can take to improve their financial situation no matter what that looks like. It’s not about getting rich fast or having a huge influx of cash – but more so about your overall being and quality of life… because let’s be honest, we all can enjoy life more when we don’t have to stress stress over our finances. With that in mind, I wanted to share five smart money moves that you can make starting today to get on track with your goals!
1. Get real with your relationship with money
One of the biggest mistakes I see people making with money is not understanding their relationship with it. Oftentimes, it’s the culprit for frivolous spending, clinging onto cash instead of investing, or not being able to break out of a certain income limit. Truth is, our relationship with money has been long formed by our observations related to money. Maybe your parents were always tight with money or your self-worth is tied to your financial status… Those are all things can trigger how we approach and handle our finances.
Whatever that looks like for you, it’s always good to reflect and understand where your insecurities, values, and goals with money come from. This is the starting point for getting to where you want to be!
2. Pay yourself first
Building a rainy day fund should be a priority even if you’re paying off debt or just started your first job. This means paying yourself first and stashing money into a bank or investment account – no matter how big or little.
This has always been one of my go-to money moves because I’ve always known that if I don’t pay myself first, I’m a slave to everything else. Over time, that account will grow – and it’s not to be used for spontaneous vacations, designer splurges, expensive gifts or stress spending.
That being said, I also believe in rewarding yourself for tackling small financial milestones. For instance, if your goal is to save $5,000 by the end of the year – and you hit that goal, reward yourself with a special treat. I find that this serves as future motivation to hit even bigger financial goals!
3. Know where your money goes
You can’t really troubleshoot your financial situation if you don’t know where your money goes. So, start keeping track of your spendings by category. Once you get a sense of where your money is going, it’s easier to make adjustments and scale back.
Start by listing all your recurring monthly bills, such as rent/mortgage, utilities, student loans, or car payments. Next, list out all your variable expenses that change from month to month, e.g. groceries, eating out, shopping, gas and fun money.
While you often can’t change your fixed expenses, there’s a lot that can be done with your variable expenses. One of my tricks to managing this is to think about your purchases in terms of your hourly rate. For instance, if you make $25/hour and you want to buy a pair of shoes for $200, consider whether or not that shoe is truly worth 8 hours of work.
4. Start small & safe with investing
Investing can seem intimidating when you know nothing about the stock market – but there are plenty of passive investment vehicles that you can take advantage of. If you don’t have a lot of cash to invest, there are platforms like M1 Finance allow you to buy fractional shares on a recurring or one-time basis. Investing is not about gambling or trying to predict the future. It’s about building a diversified portfolio in order to hedge your cash assets against inflation. If you don’t want to pick your own investments, consider Index Funds/ETFs to get started.
5. Start a side hustle
Perhaps one of the smartest money moves you can make now is to start a side hustle. I’ll be honest in that it’s insanely hard to climb the corporate ladder and grow your earnings exponentially. By doing small jobs on the side that you enjoy (like blogging, photography, tutoring, or selling goods), you’ll be able to grow your net worth faster.
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