Your financial well-being is important, but it doesn’t always come naturally. You need to work at it. To help you get started, we’ve compiled this list of five easy steps to safeguard your financial wellbeing:
Set Goals for the Life You Want
- Define your goals.
- Make a plan to achieve them.
- Start small and build on success.
- Don’t worry about other people’s goals, or what they think of yours. You are not competing with anyone else, so don’t compare yourself to others or their achievements, and don’t let it stop you from achieving your own goals. Remember: everyone starts somewhere!
Build an Emergency Fund
- This is one of the most critical steps you can take to protect your financial wellbeing. An emergency fund should be held in a savings account, separate from any other account or investment.
- You should have at least 3-6 months of living expenses saved up at all times.
- It’s important that you can access this money quickly if an emergency arises, so keep it liquid—meaning it’s not tied up in long-term investments like stocks and bonds.
- It’s okay to start small. Try to contribute any amount. It will add up over time.
Create a BudgetYour budget should be composed of three categories: what you need, what you want, and what you save.
- The “need” category is a list of all the bills that need to be paid every month, such as rent or mortgage payments, utility bills and credit card payments.
- The “want” category is a list of everything else that requires money – groceries (some of which fall into the “need” category), entertainment and clothing expenses – along with any other items on the “need” list that can be put off until next month due to unexpected circumstances (such as an illness or car repair).
- The savings category is where all excess income goes each month; it should be set aside for long-term goals such as down payment on a house or retirement savings accounts like 401(k)s or IRAs
Seek Financial CounselingSeeking financial counseling can be a great way to get started on the path to financial wellness. The best part is that it’s free and confidential, so there’s no reason not to take advantage of it. Financial counseling is not just for people who are already in debt or have serious credit problems—it’s an opportunity to talk with someone who can help you identify your goals and make a plan for how to reach them. The counselor will also work with you if your income has been cut due to job loss or other circumstances, and may even help connect you with resources such as food banks or utility assistance programs.
Shop Around for Insurance and Other Services
- Shop around for insurance and other services. With so many companies out there, you should never just take the first quote given to you. In fact, it’s a good idea to have multiple quotes from different providers before choosing your policy or service provider.
- Ask friends and family for recommendations of companies they have had good experiences with. If possible, find out what specifically made their experience positive—was it the price? The customer service? The convenience? This will help guide you as you shop around for insurance and other services yourself.*
- Look online for reviews of companies offering similar products or services that interest you; often these reviews can shed light on how long the company has been in business (and if they are reputable), whether they offer competitive rates, what features are offered by competing companies but not by this one (and vice versa), etc.*
- Make sure that any contracts or policies contain all relevant terms and conditions before signing anything!