For years, you’ve been telling yourself you’d stick to a budget, pay off your debts and free yourself from financial worry.
Yet, somewhere along the way you allowed yourself to get sidetracked. But today is a new day, and armed with a new set of rules, you can begin to make life changes that will result in a wealthier, healthier, and more profitable you.
Monthly bills, installment agreements, correspondence from creditors, receipts, check stubs and cancelled checks should be organized, filed and stored neatly in an accessible area. “I recommend a portable file storage cabinet where you can organize, alphabetize and store necessary information at your fingertips,” says 38-year-old East Coast finance executive Yvette Jamison.
Create A Budget And Stick To It.
Most people start out with a budget, but after a few trips to the ATM, or unexpected expenses, they find that they have already exceeded it. “Write down your goals, create a budget that supports them, and make allowances for unexpected expenses,” says Tameka Johnson, 32-year-old business manager in Chicago.
Make A Plan For Your Debt.
Debt is a part of life and it’s usually not the problem, it’s how we respond to it. Some financial experts suggest starting with the smallest debts first, paying them off, and using whatever is left over to pay toward the next obligation. In this manner, you are continually decreasing expenses while creating a method of discipline that is integral to wealth-building. “Some people plan meticulously for a two-week vacation, yet don’t thoroughly educate themselves about making lifestyle decisions that affect their whole future,” says Marilyn and Tom Ross. The key, experts say, is to take control of your debt and not let it take control of you.
Live Within (Or Below) Your Means.
The art of long-term growth begins with a change in lifestyle. “Many people can be publicly successful and privately complete failures,” says T.D. Jakes, author of The Great Investment. “Many people spend hundreds of dollars on the latest imported suit and fine-skin shoes, only to struggle to scrape together the money needed to keep the lights from being cut off or the eviction notice from being delivered.” Living within or below your means, therefore, means taking an honest evaluation of your resources and living within the parameters of those financial boundaries.
Commit To Saving.
Although it may seem that there is little to spare, setting aside a monthly amount is an important step to establishing a firm financial foundation. Begin by saving a three-month cushion (an amount equal to three months’ worth of expenses) and then branch out into other saving vehicles. “From 401(k) accounts to IRA’s, mutual funds and educational accounts, saving money not only solidifies your financial footing, it provides a necessary source of support in the event of an emergency,” says Tameka Johnson.
Stay In Control.
Keeping a clear-cut goal in front of you is half the battle of getting there. “Remind yourself frequently why you’re trying to get out of debt,” says Gerri Detweiler, Marc Eisenson & Nancy Castleman in Slash Your Debt: Save Money and Secure Your Future. “Whether your goal is to provide for college tuition, create a more secure financial future or carefree retirement, think about how much more money you’ll have once those debts are paid. Then, decide how you’d like to spend, or better yet, invest the extra money.” Keep in mind that your goal is to free yourself from financial worries and pressures while improving your wealth-building abilities.
Creating a financially independent lifestyle doesn’t happen overnight, but with time, discipline and a commitment to change, you can see the beginning of a wealthier you.