Get paid what you’re worth
Make sure you perform an evaluation of your skills, job function and the median income for your job title in the area you live. Don’t forget that you’re also well within your rights to negotiate both your salary and benefits when applying for a new job or undergoing a performance review.
Being underpaid by even a few thousand dollars per year can make a big difference in the long run, so don’t be afraid to know your worth and ask for it. The worst someone can say is “no.”
Live within or below your means
This may seem like a given, but one of the best things you can do when it comes to your finances is to spend less than you earn and to save whenever you can afford to do so. Making some small sacrifices now - like eating out less often or using just one streaming service a month - can lead to much greater financial opportunities in the future.
Utilize debt sparingly and responsibly
Sometimes debt is inevitable and even necessary. For most people that means mortgages, auto loans and credit cards. When used correctly, debt can be a useful financial tool and greatly boost your credit score, which shows lenders your ability to utilize debt responsibly and manage your finances well.
To do this, you should always make your monthly payments in full and on-time. It’s also important to avoid excessive loans and debts when possible, and to steer clear of quick cash and payday loans which can often place debtors in an interest trap that’s very difficult to escape.
Contribute to your retirement and do not withdraw early
I spoke to Brian Lumley, an accredited investment fiduciary at Raymond James, and he provided some expert advice when it comes to retirement savings.
“One of the things I always tell people is that it is not how much you invest, but instead how long you invest,” he said.
Consider the chart below: With average market returns - about 10.5% since 1926 - it only takes roughly $700 per year to have $1 million at retirement if you start at age 20. But if you wait until you’re 30 to start, it takes $2,300 per year to reach $1 million. That’s the difference a decade can make.
“By age 40 or 50, it can be very difficult to get an adequate nest egg accumulated for retirement,” Lumley said. “So, start early and leave it alone!”
Contributing whatever you can as early as possible is certainly the key, as is leaving the funds alone until retirement to maximize your yield while avoiding costly fees. Plus, if your employer offers any kind of match, absolutely take advantage of it.
Make a will
Having a written will in place not only gives you peace-of-mind, it legally protects your loved ones in case something were to happen to you. Without a will or proper beneficiaries, your money typically goes through probate court, which is both a costly and time-consuming process.
Just like learning anything else, the best way to brush up on your financial literacy is to study. Whether you’re curious about monthly budgeting, the best way to file your taxes, or different types of investments, seeking out information can go a long way in your financial success. There are many informative finance blogs and books that can be valuable resources.
Create a budget
Personal finance mentor Dave Ramsey says, “A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.” It’s very often the case - $5 coffees and daily restaurant runs can add up quickly and eat into your savings. Making a budget detailing how much money you have each week or month, and where it needs to go, can help you keep better track of your finances - just be sure you stick to it.
FAFSA for students
If you or your child are college-age, you’ve probably heard of the FAFSA. This form is used to apply for many different loans, scholarships, grants (which do not have to be repaid), and work study programs. The best part? The FAFSA is completely free to fill out and can be resubmitted at the start of every school year!
Set goals and save
We all know it’s important to save money, but it can be harder to do when we don’t have a clear idea of what we’re saving toward. Whether you want to follow the 50/30/20 rule to save for an emergency fund or you just want buy that shiny new car soon, setting your own personal savings goals along with your desired timeframes helps provide a structured plan.
Pro tip: Pay yourself first! That is, put money in your savings before you do any other spending. It’s easiest to simply set up automatic transfers with your online banking.
Automate your finances
Speaking of automation, it’s never been easier to put your money to work for you than in today’s digital age of online and mobile banking. Utilizing automation tools like recurring bill pay and automatic transfers can make managing your money easier, cheaper and faster.
Try out some of these tips and, before you know it, you just might become a financial guru! Also be sure to check out all of OMB's incredible calculators to see what your savings could look like down the road.
OMB and its affiliates do not provide legal, tax or accounting advice. You should consult your legal and/or tax advisors before making any financial decision. Investment products are not federally or FDIC-insured, are not deposits or obligations of, or guaranteed by any financial institution, and involve investment risks including possible loss of principal and fluctuation in value. This material is not intended as a recommendation, offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security or investment strategy.
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