So 2017 is approaching and your financial situation is less than ideal. Believe me, a broke college graduate, when I say I understand. But it’s time to take that mess and sort it out. A scary prospect? Absolutely. But one of the most important things to remember is that building a stable financial life is a process. It’s not going to happen overnight, and that’s okay. I have a few tips and tricks to help begin the process of turning your financial acorns into 2017’s assets.
1. BUILD THAT BUDGET!
The key word here is “build”. Your budget is your plan for how you will spend your income, and as you change your spending habits and lifestyle your budget should reflect those changes.
The first step in building a budget is tracking your spending. You need to know how you’re already spending your money before you can make good judgments about the changes you need to make to be more financially sound. Figure out where you can cut down on unnecessary expenses, things like coffee, fast-food, and cigarettes/alcohol (to name a few).
But don’t trim off all fun spending. If you cut all the fun out of your budget, you’ll never stick to it. Prioritize your fun, and know that you can come back and make changes.
The 50/30/20 model is helpful for organizing your budget. You put 50% of your income toward essentials like housing, food, transportation, and bills. 20% of your income goes to savings and paying down debts (this is affected by your debt load, though) and the remaining 30% is personal non-essentials like coffee. The 30% is the maximum you should spend on personal non-essentials, and if you carry a high debt load, consider decreasing this and putting more toward paying off debt.
2. PAY DOWN DEBT
Easier said than done, I know. But there are some helpful principles to paying down debt efficiently (like sticking to your budget.) When it comes to credit card debt, always pay at least the minimum, but aim to pay more, in full when/if possible. This minimizes the amount of money you’re throwing at interest rates, which are often high and unforgiving on credit cards.
The Snowball and Avalanche Methods are also very helpful. Using the Snowball method, you aim all your extra funds at your lowest balance. When that is paid off, aim all extra funds at the next lowest, and so on. This eliminates all those little debts and minimum payments and keeps motivation high. You aim all extra funds at the balance with the highest interest rate first with the Avalanche Method. This is mathematically sound because high interest sucks up the most money and when its paid off, you have even more money to throw at your next highest interest rate.
3. CONSIDER PART-TIME TELECOMMUTING WORK
This is actually what I’m doing, write now (pun intended). I work independently from home, so if you’re a stay-at home mom or just have some free time on the weekends, telecommuting work is an easy and convenient option. Check your local job boards, talk to your friends, or click here.
4. SIGN UP FOR OUR MENTORING PROGRAM
If building a stable financial life is a priority for your, joining the Women’s Money®’s Mentoring Program is a really great option, full of one on one support and tools to help you become your best financial self.
Written by Mckenzie Candalot, Staff Writer — Mckenzie Candalot is a recent graduate of the College of Idaho, with a B.A. for English Literature, and is currently working on a Masters in the Art of Teaching. When not studying for classes or blogging, she enjoys reading, walking her dog, and embroidery.