6 Personal Finance Tips for a Stress-free Financial Life
Mel Barnes, SVP – Chief Operations Officer
"Personal finance" is the management of your money and financial decisions, including budgeting, investments and retirement planning. If you are getting ready to begin your professional career, now is the best time to become financially literate. Below are six steps to help you enjoy financial peace of mind for the rest of your life.
- First and most important, set a budget.
Take a moment to sit down and allocate your money. How much do you want to spend and save? How much are you paying for necessities, like rent, car payments, gas or electricity? Go through your bank statements from the previous month, add it all up and then make changes based on your goals. A good guideline is the 50/30/20 rule: spend 50% of your income on necessities, 30% on fun things and save 20% percent.
- Follow your budget!
Setting a budget is the easy part—sticking to it can be harder. Use a secure money-tracking app, such as Mint, or write down every transaction so you can know where all your money is and how it’s being spent.
- Limit debt.
If you can’t afford a purchase now, save up your money and avoid accumulating debt. Borrowing in case of emergency is okay, but the main thing is this: Don’t spend more than you earn!
- Establish a “Rainy Day Fund.”
This can be your savings or a completely separate account that can be used for emergencies, like sudden illness, or everyday life situations, like a broken washing machine. Plan for the worst so you can be prepared for the best.
- Use credit cards wisely and watch your credit score.
Use a credit card and pay it off on time, every time. This will increase your credit score and improve your credit status. It will also help you save money—good credit scores mean less upfront costs when applying for utility services or a new cable provider.
- Establish your 401(k)
Retirement may seem like a long way off, but it’s never too early to begin saving. 401(k) plans offer tax breaks and can be withdrawn right out of your paycheck. Allocate a percentage of your income and you won’t even realize how much you are saving. If your employer has 401(k) match, even better—this is virtually free money.