Most of us work our whole lives to build wealth. Some of us achieve financial freedom while others don’t. There’s no secret that I can give you that will lead to financial stability. But here are ten surprisingly simple steps you can take that can help calm any financial anxieties you may have.
- Know where your money is going. It’s a good idea to track everything you spend for one month in order to assess your current spending patterns and evaluate your cash outflows. You can use one of the many available finance apps, a spreadsheet or the envelope system to track your expenses. Are you spending money on things you don’t truly need?
- Determine what you need to live the life you want and achieve your financial goals. Compare and contrast what you need with what you want. Keep in mind your personal financial goals. What things do you really need? What things can you do without, at least for now?
- Stop buying things you don’t need. It is common to justify spending patterns and impulse purchases, especially if you see others spending money on similar things. We all do it. But if you’re going to achieve financial stability, you will need to exercise some restraint.
- Create a budget. Your monthly budget is your financial plan and it should reflect your personal financial goals. A budget is simply a tool to help you stay on track. If you don’t have a current budgeting system, there are many free budgeting spreadsheets available online.
- Live within your means. Challenge yourself to live simply and within, or better yet, below your means. To build wealth, you must spend less than you earn. As your income grows, try to avoid lifestyle inflation at all costs.
- Pay yourself first. No matter how much we try to control the future, life can throw us some curve balls. Having an emergency fund is one of the most important keys to financial stability. You have to have something set aside just in case the unexpected occurs. Learn to pay yourself first. Prioritize and automate savings. The peace of mind that comes with this is priceless.
- Get out of debt. Develop a debt payoff plan that is feasible yet challenging. Weigh the pros and cons of paying the lowest balance debt or highest interest rate first. Regardless of the method you choose, getting out of debt is central to achieving financial stability.
- Protect your family. Make sure you have adequate insurance, especially if you have a family – but not more than you need. We cannot predict the future, but we can prepare for it.
- Invest in your future. Start by investing in your employer-sponsored program such as a 401k to take advantage of the tax benefits. Continue learning and growing by investing in yourself as your primary asset.
- Develop an attitude of gratitude. When you are grateful for the things that you have – in spite of your current circumstances – abundance is sure to follow.
I hope these suggestions move you toward financial stability. Don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t come quickly. Remember that all good things take time. Stay focused on your financial goals and it will come!