“A big part of financial freedom is having your heart and mind free from worry about the what- is of life” Suze Orman
If you’re reading this article you’re apparently in search of financial freedom. Like many Americans you want to improve your current financial situation. In this article we will address the best methods of achieving this goal.
Most people look at money on an emotional level. People view their bank statements and bills, then immediately experience anxiety. When seeking financial freedom there must be an improvement strategy in place. It’s important that logic is used when improving finances instead of anxiety or concern. Changing the way, you view money before creating budgets will make for an easier change of lifestyle.
Create a realistic budget. A budget is the most effective way to determine where you stand financially. Prepare a list of what you spend on a weekly or monthly basis. Your list may contain the following:
- Rent/ Mortgage
- Health Insurance
- Debt Payments
- Personal Savings
- Recreational Expenses
Compare the list above to your weekly or monthly net worth including but not limited to…
What expenses can you eliminate? Improving your finances means excluding activities or expenses that are not significant. In this case you must be honest and thorough when writing out your budget. The power to pick out areas of improvement will in fact contribute to success in the form of money laid aside. Following a budget may be difficult in the beginning, but it is much more rewarding in the end. Taking time to revisit your financial goals will keep you on the road to improving your finances.
Your budget will help you…
- Save for the future.
- Have an emergency fund set up.
- Invest to improve net worth.
- Become healthier, happy and stress free.
Start planning for the future. Where do you see yourself and your family in the years to come? Write down your short- term and long- term financial goals. Once you have taken the time to think realistically about what you want or need to accomplish it then becomes reality. Whether your plan is to buy or pay off your home, save for your child’s education or invest your money. Calculate the amount of money you plan to commit to these individual goals and for how long. Each goal should be listed by priority and make adjustments to your budget and financial goals over time.
Save, save, save! What can you absolutely do without or reduce in your spending? Remember, keep your emotions out of this process. List all expenses like… movies, music, clothes, dinner out, electronics, etc. How much money and how often are you spending money on these non- essentials? Of course, it’s exciting to view a movie on opening night, download your favorite artists’ new album as soon as it comes out. These non- essentials may make you feel good for a day or two, but it also puts a strain on you financially.
A great way to watch your finances is to search for sales. Utilize couponing for groceries as well as other products and services. Most grocers and retailers have rewards cards that offer discounts on their products. Small life- style changes are a perfect way to improve your finances by ultimately reducing the amount of money you spend. Substitute going to the movies for a day at a museum. Cook the meal from your favorite restaurant at home. Change around your wardrobe to create new outfit ideas. Applying these helpful techniques will increase the amount of money you are able to save.
Live off of the money you have left after you put away your savings. Taking 10 to 20 percent the income you bring home and distributing it throughout the prioritized goals you have in place is a good start. The remainder should then be utilized to pay your monthly bills. This is a way of taking baby steps in your savings process. Any extra income or money received should immediately be put away and not used to splurge upon.
Learn the difference between a “need” and a “want”. “Needs” are things you have to have in order to survive:
“Wants” are things we do not need for survival, but would like to have:
- New model cell phone
- Season tickets to a sporting event
- Weekly hair appointments
For example, you need your vehicle for transportation. You currently have a working vehicle that may be outdated and has minor issues. You are able to fix the issues at a nominal fee, but due to fair or good credit you want to get a newer year vehicle. Look at the fact that your current payments are lower or you don’t currently have a car payment. The issue can be resolved with a one- time fee, never to be revisited again. The best option in this case would be to repair the issue thus keeping you from adding an expense and slowing down the ability to maximize your saving potential.
Eliminating debt improves your finances over time. First, discontinue the use of any credit cards, they should be kept only for emergency purposes. Excessive spending on a high interest rate credit card and paying only the minimum balance is hurting you financially. It will take you forever to climb out of the hole. Pay more than the minimum balance on credit cards and student loans and you will notice the interest rate slowly decline. Stop borrowing money you cannot pay back. Loans, financing furniture, pay advances are all ways to stay or fall deeper in debt. Pay off or close these accounts to keep money in your pocket. Revise your budget to reflect the money saved without these expenses.
When thinking of a long term financial strategy to improve your financial investing is the way to go. Investing is a way to generate extra income and eradicate debt. Start off conservatively investing in stocks, bonds, CDs or company retirement program that matches funds put towards retirement. Slow and steady pace is the best method in which to approach investing. Bi- weekly or monthly paycheck deductions can be very rewarding.
Consider working with a professional. Creating and maintaining a financial plan can be a time consuming and daunting task. Working with a financial advisor in most cases is less stressful and more lucrative when it comes to planning your financial future. A fee only advisor will ensure no conflicts of interest and assure you are well on your way to financial freedom. Through research you will be able to find the best advisor for you. Some companies offer the services of a financial advisor. Whatever method you choose, to go at it alone or with the assistance of a professional. The only way to become financially free is to get started. Don’t put off to tomorrow what you can do today.