When there’s a lot going on in your life, you might be tempted to put thinking about your finances on the back burner. But that’s never a good plan. Improving your financial outlook can be as easy as laying down – and following – a few simple ground rules.
Create a Spending Plan
Add up your monthly expenses – rent/mortgage, utilities, insurance, food, commuting costs, loan and car payments, etc. – and subtract them from your after-tax income. If expenses are top heavy, look for places to trim.
Paying bills and making loan payments on time will help you earn a healthy credit score. Credit cards can help you establish credit, but make sure you pay off any balances each month to avoid accruing interest and lowering your credit score.
Start an Emergency Fund
Set aside money in a cash account in case of a job loss or an unexpected expense. Your goal should be at least six months’ worth of living costs.
Set Concrete Goals
A down payment on a house, a college fund, retirement – identifying specific goals can keep you on track. Think about how much you’ll need to save for each goal and review your progress periodically.
Contribute to a Retirement Plan
Take advantage of your employer’s 401(k) or other retirement plan, or open an individual retirement account (IRA) on your own.