Personal Finance Basics: Financial Moves You’ll be Thankful for Later  header image

Personal Finance Basics: Financial Moves You’ll be Thankful for Later

Your financial future is in your hands — making just a few adjustments and taking some small steps can set you up for financial success down the road. Whether your goals include traveling, funding a child or grandchild’s education, purchasing a home or retiring comfortably, taking a few actions to improve your financial well-being in the next few months can lead to significant strides toward your goals. Here are 16 personal finance tips that you can start using today:

  1. Create a budget — and stick to it! Budgeting is about determining your priorities and honoring those priorities. It may also be enlightening to determine your “survival number” — the monthly costs of just your essentials, like housing, food, healthcare, utilities, etc. — to help inform you of how you can balance saving and spending.
  2. Build your savings. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we can’t predict the future. If you don’t have 3-6 months of your expenses saved, you should make that a priority. If you have a savings account, consider switching to a high-yield savings account where you can earn more in interest.
  3. Max out your retirement savings match opportunities. If your company-sponsored retirement plan (such as a 401(k) or 403(b)) includes a match from your employer, always take full advantage of that. It’s free money!
  4. Review your subscriptions. Do you have cable but also pay for multiple streaming services? Are you still getting a clothing subscription box but have nowhere to wear your new threads? You may be able to cancel some subscription services to save money.
  5. Do some research to determine if refinancing your home loan is a smart financial move. This year has brought historically low interest rates and you may benefit from refinancing.
  6. Plan your meals. From a purely financial perspective, not only will this keep you on track at the grocery store, it will also help you avoid going out to eat or calling for delivery because you’re not sure what you have at home.
  7. Reuse. Utilize thrift stores (in-person and online) to buy and to sell. Look for refurbished electronics when you buy and be sure to trade-in or sell your old electronics when you upgrade.
  8. Keep on top of updating your will and your beneficiary information. While you won’t directly benefit from this, you can rest easy knowing your wishes are known and your loved ones are cared for.
  9. Put pay increases toward your retirement. Unless you aren’t able to make ends meet, it’s unlikely that a 2% increase in your salary will make much difference in your day-to-day. However, when you take into account compounding interest, that $1,000 a year pay increase can pay off big later in life.
  10. Conduct regular maintenance on your home appliances and vehicles to save on costly repairs down the road. A $20 filter or $100 repair could extend the lives of your costly machinery and appliances.
  11. Open a 529 plan to start saving for education expenses. The cost of secondary education is increasing every year. To prepare your children for success, start saving now.
  12. Meet with your financial advisor to review your portfolio. This year has been a whirlwind in the market and your portfolio may look very different now than what you intended. Reviewing this regularly with your financial professional ensures that you’re working toward your goals in a way that best fits you.
  13. Explore free resources, like your local library, and double check benefits of your membership organizations. You might be surprised that your insurance company provides discounts to hotel chains or your membership to your local museum also gets you into the historical society for free.
  14. Pay off your high-interest debt as soon as you can. Interest payments take a significant chunk out of your wallet — and that’s money that doesn’t do anything to serve your future interests.
  15. Institute regular no-spend days. Pick one day a week to commit to not spending any money. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is — and how much you can save!
  16. Finally, ask for help. Connecting with a financial advisor may be the best thing you can do for your financial future because they can help you build on your strengths and overcome your weaknesses when it comes to planning for your goals.

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