Tuesday, March 17, 2015

5 Financial Strategies for the Everyday Person

My husband and I both are looking toward the future. We would like to retire at a decent age without the worry of what ifs. Too many people do not plan for their future and are only looking a day at a time.

I truly believe it is important for our generation to take an active role in their futures and planning their retirements. Too many people counted on Social Security in order to live in retirement. We may not have any of those benefits when we get to the retirement age. Taking control of your finances is a lifestyle choice. It's just like eating healthy and working out. You have to make an effort in order to see results.

I believe that anyone, no matter what your social and financial status is, can start with some basic strategies. 

1. Set Financial Goals
Too many people are living pay check to pay check these days. I know that every family's situation is different, but you need to set a goal to reach toward. Otherwise, it is too easy to make excuses for why you aren't putting that $20.00 back that you could be saving or splurging on a new TV when you already have a  working one.

Set a goal so that you have an incentive to reach it. Maybe you want to save $2,000 in order to start an investment in the stock market. Perhaps, you would like to pay for your next car in cash instead of taking a loan out. 

Little goals can help you feel good about reaching them and help you look forward to your long term goals.

2. Make Sacrifices 
People who are rich aren't always born with a silver spoon in their mouth. Many people start from the ground floor and work their way up. Along the way you must make sacrifices in order to reach your short-term and long-term goals.

For example, I got my first car when I was 16 years old. It finally was biting the dust when I was about 25. I only work about 3 miles from our home, so there was no way I was going to buy a new car. I found a car I loved at a used car lot, but it had hail damage. The car ran great, it was a luxury brand and it was well taken care of. I got a great deal because most people aren't willing to sacrifice the looks of the car. I don't care what my car looks like, it does it's job!

Maybe your sacrifice is staying in a smaller house with your family because you are close to paying it off or going without name brand foods and drinks because you can save money on groceries. 

Little things add up, so do not discount yourself by saying your only saving "x" amount a month. Changing several little things each day, week and month will add up over time. Then you will begin to not even have to think about where to save money. It will become like second nature.

3. Pay off Debt
One goal I set for myself was paying off my student loan before we got married. When I graduated college, I got my first real job. The first year I worked, I really only spent money on gas and my student loan. I got that $8,500 paid off in less than 12 months. 

I was so proud of myself and I was happy that we could start our marriage off with only one piece of debt, my husband's car.

Then it became out next goal to pay off his car. We paid extra on it each month. Not only does this take years off the loan, it saves you money in interest accruing on the loan.

You don't have to go to the extreme of paying things off in a year, but if you make the effort at all it will help you save money in the long run. 

4. Save Money
This seems easy, but we all know that person with the attitude "if they have it, they spend it." You should try to put a little money back each month. This would help with an emergency fund and for accomplishing your short and long-term goals. 

Even if you can put back $20.00 a month,  you will start to accumulate some money over time. A little bit of savings is better than none at all.

5. Quit Playing the Victim
Quit blaming others, the government or economy for everything. We each have choices and we each have complications in life. Don't just blame others and say "poor me". Try and do something about your situation, just don't settle. 

Nobody ever got anywhere by wallowing in self-pity. You pick yourself up and try to solve the problem.

I am not saying that I am this know-it-all guru when it comes to money, but my husband and I do really well for ourselves considering what we each do for a living. We will never be rich by him being a teacher and me being an office manager. We are striving to try and set ourselves up by planning other income sources for our future. 

Every family should try to set themselves up the best they can because you never know what our futures hold. You can only count on yourself. We cannot rely on the government for our future plans. We have to be proactive!

Just a few changes here and there can add up! It will be hard at first, but it will pay off to be dedicated. Choosing to be smart with money is a lifestyle commitment. 

Until next time,

Kara



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