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It seems pretty normal to me now but people still drop their jaws when I tell them weâve paid over $45K on our loans in less than a year. We still have a year to go and most days I…
The post How We Paid Off Over $45K of Debt in 11 Months appeared first on Modern Frugality.
Yuttachai Saechan/Getty Images; realtor.com
Those who are fortunate enough to still be collecting a paycheck while quarantined or sheltering in place might expect to build up some serious savings. While you work from home, you’re avoiding your usual commuting expenses, and you’re probably saving money by not going to bars, restaurants, and movies, or skipping that vacation to Fiji.
But as spending decreases in some areas during self-isolation, it can creep up in others. To brace yourself and your budget, keep an eye on these expenses while youâre self-isolating at home.
If youâve gone from office life to Zoom life, youâre spending more time at home than usual, which could ramp up your household expenses.
âYour utility spending might be considerably higher if you’re spending more time at home cooking, charging devices, using lights and appliances,â says Ted Rossman, industry analyst at CreditCards.com.
To keep your utility bills down, turn off lights when you leave the room, open windows during the day to let in cool air, unplug devices that youâre not using, and consider turning down your water heater by a few degrees.
Even if youâre not hoarding (and you shouldnât be), you might find yourself spending more on groceries while you shelter in place.
For some people, an uptick in grocery spending will be offset by the money saved from not dining at restaurants. But if your local store is picked overâor if you pay fees for grocery deliveryâyou could spend more on groceries than usual.
âIâve been to a local grocery store, and the only thing that was available was organic, so I couldnât buy the generic. I actually had to spend more money,â says Steve Repak, author of the â6 Week Money Challenge for Your Personal Finances.â
If your grocery spending feels out of hand, be flexible and creative with your menu. Cook the food you already have at home before you head back to the store. Sites such as Eater have compiled resources for home cooks, including Pantry Cooking 101 and How to Stock a Pantry.
If youâre using a delivery service, place infrequent, larger orders instead of several small orders. Or consider curbside service; many stores are allowing free pickups where they bring your groceries right to your car, so you can save on delivery fees and tips.
3. Meal delivery and takeout
You may not be able to enjoy a nice meal at a restaurant, but you can order takeout and deliveryâand those indulgences can add up quickly. After all, itâs not just the meal youâre paying for.
âThereâs probably still a service fee, and on top of that you have to leave a gratuity,â Repak says. (It’s also a good idea to generously tip the workers who are delivering your food in these times.)
If youâre on a budget, reserve takeout and delivery for special occasions or those days when you just canât muster the motivation to cook.
4. Alcohol and other sources of comfort
If you find yourself decompressing with a glass or two (or three) of wine every night, your drinking habit could do a number on your budget. And you wouldn’t be aloneâalcohol consumption has shot up nationwide, and in states where recreational marijuana is legal, dispensaries are reporting booming business.
âSocial isolation is really strongly linked to physical and mental health problems, and the way we cope with a lot of them is by drinking more,â Repak says. âPeople are going to smoke more and drink more … and we need to find other healthier coping mechanisms to offset that additional spending.â
You may not want to totally forfeit your evening glass of pinot, but you can make your supply last longer by sipping a mug of (far more affordable) chamomile tea on occasion, or opting for a calming yoga video or breathing exercise.
Watch: Our Chief Economist’s View on the Pandemic, Mortgage Rates, and What’s Ahead
Youâve rewatched all your favorite shows on Netflix and Huluâso, now’s the time to add a Disney+ subscription, right?
Not so fast, Repak says.
âSave a little bit of money by just picking one of the streaming services,â he suggests, or at least donât pile on new subscriptions to the ones you already have.
To free up your budget, take inventory of your other monthly subscriptions, services, and other recurring expenses, and see if there’s anything that can be eliminated.
âTen dollars a month may not sound like a lot, but if you have five of those, that’s $600 annually,â Rossman adds.
6. Online shopping
If you turn to retail therapy to soothe your soul, your budget could take a hit. True, many retailers are offering deep discounts in order to move merchandise, but even discount purchases add up.
âImpulse buying is a potential trap,â Rossman says. âSome people fall victim to it more than others.â
Instead of clicking âadd to cartâ as a coping mechanism, Repak suggests cleaning out your closet instead.
âThis is a great time that we can offset our budget by decluttering our house or apartment,â he says.
Use sites like Poshmark to sell your clothes, or Mercari for your household items. Many donation centers such as Goodwill are still accepting donations, tooâjust call ahead to make sure your local store or donation drop-off location will take your items.
7. New hobbies you’re trying in quarantine
Our spending habits are highly personal, and you might find yourself throwing money at a new habit or hobby to fight cabin fever.
âItâs a worthwhile exercise to track your spending, especially now that so much is different,â Rossman says. âLook through your credit card and bank statements from the past month. Do you see anything surprising? Are there areas where you spent extra but didn’t feel it was worth it? These could be good ways to cut back.â
And remember: Even if quarantine has eliminated some of your old day-to-day expenses, itâs easy to overestimate how much youâre saving.
âMost people don’t have a great handle on their budget and spending habits anyway, and so much has changed of late,â Rossman says. âIt’s easy to overlook things.â
The post Watch Your Wallet: 7 Hidden Costs of Self-Isolating at Home During Coronavirus appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.comÂ®.
5 Neglected Expenses That Can Ruin Your Vacation Budget
With the weather warming up, summer vacation isn’t too far away. If you haven’t already, it’s time to start a vacation budget and account for everything you’ll be paying for that week.
After all, you don’t want to have to cut your relaxation time short because you forgot that you actually have to pay for gas.
But there are other financial surprises too, ones that perhaps you don’t think very much about when sitting down to create your budget. Here are a few that maybe you have not taken into account just yet, but absolutely need to.
Let Mint.com help you create the perfect vacation budget.Â Click hereÂ to get started!
Despite free public parking not being a popular idea among money-hungry companies for a while now, a lot of us still forget that we have to pay for the damn thing. This may be a few bucks or a few dozen bucks, but either way you can’t forget it when budgeting for your vacation.
Do the research to find out the charges for each place you’re staying or going to. Going to see a ball game? How much does the park charge to park? Going to take the train into the city? How much do they charge and, if need be, how much does valet parking cost?
Add those up, and you might be surprised how much not actively driving your car can run you.
These days, Wi-Fi is just about everywhere, and just about everydiv uses it. While the airport Wi-Fi might be free, the hotel you stay in might want a few bucks extra for use of their signal. This is especially true in nice, upscale hotels, where Wi-Fi access could run youÂ $10-$20 a day.
So either annoy your family by checking into some rinky-dink motel, where Wi-Fi is free but everything is roach-ridden and moth-eaten, or factor in the money necessary for Junior to use his iPad on the coziest bed he’s ever slept on.
The Food Bill
Even though it’s part of our daily lives, many people don’t think about food when punching out their budget. And if they do, they vastly underestimate how much stomach fuel actually costs.
This goes for vacations as well. You should find out what restaurants in the area typically charge, so you don’t get blindsided by the high cost of steak. If you’ve rented out a house with a kitchen and fridge, take some time to deduce how much you and your family spend on food at home.
Then, take that total and add a bit more to the food budget. It’s vacation time, after all, and for many, relaxing and unwinding means more burgers and s’mores than during a regular workweek.
Checked Bag Fees
If there’s one thing all travelers can agree is pure evil, airlines charging people to check in their bags has be it. Some airlines, such as Southwest, will let customers get away with someÂ checked bags for free, but expect to fork over $25 or more for each additional one.
Checked bag fees need to be part of your budget every time, because it’s never, ever going away. Airlines make too much money off of it to abandon it simply because we don’t like it.
Either pack minimally, ensuring that you can get away with nothing but carry-ons and maybe one or two checked bags, or put a couple hundred bucks aside in the budget for the over packers in your family.
There was an episode ofÂ Full HouseÂ where Danny Tanner attempted to script the family’s Hawaiian vacation to the letter — every activity planned ahead of time, strict time limits on said activities, and naturally every penny accounted for.
This almost never happens. Vacations aren’t nearly that organized, and you will have some unpredictable moments, not to mention costs that you didn’t see coming. Maybe your children see an ad for horse riding trails and immediately start begging you to let them ride the horsies.
Sadly, horsies aren’t cheap, but thisÂ isÂ a vacation, so why not let them indulge?
The trick is to not indulgeÂ tooÂ much. Don’t do everything that sounds fun, because the inevitable overdraft charges on your bank account won’t be very fun. Leave enough room in your budget for unplanned, spontaneous activities, and stick to that window as closely as you can.
This way, you and your family will have a great, fun vacation, and you won’t still be paying for it months and months later.
Mint.com can help create a complete vacation budget just for you and your family.Â Click hereÂ to sign up and start!
The post 5 Neglected Expenses That Can Ruin Your Vacation Budget appeared first on MintLife Blog.
When Craig Hynd and his fiancÃ©e brought home their new Lhasa Apso puppy Chewie, they knew the addition to their family would be worth itâbut they didn’t quite understand the true cost of owning a dog. As new homeowners, “we didn’t have a lot of money to spare on a month-to-month basis,” Hynd says, “but we also love dogs and felt that we could afford to bring one into our home.”
To make sure they were financially on the mark, Hynd, a marketing executive for HR software company Youmanage, decided to do some research on how to afford a dog on a budget, shortly after Chewie settled in. He was glad he did: He found that the costs of dog ownership added up to much more than he originally anticipated. Fortunately, there was still time for him to adjust.
But Hynd’s foresight is not always top of mind for new dog owners. Getting a dog can be an emotional, knee-jerk decision, and you may not think about the expenses that go along with it or how to budget for a dog. The cost of owning a dog over the average lifespan of 12 years ranges from $5,000 to $20,000. The majority of dog owners underestimate this figure.1 That’s the kind of misunderstanding that can leave you short on funds for things such as vaccinations and preventative careâeven food and toys.
So when asking yourself the question, “How much money should I budget for a dog?” you’ll be glad to know that a little financial preparation can go a long way toward making sure you’re ready for the responsibilities that come with pet ownership. The information that follows can help you and your new pooch share a happy, healthy friendship for years to come.
Welcome home: First-year costs for your pup
“Before getting my dog, I made sure to save as much money as possible,” says Danielle MÃ¼hlenberg, a professional dog trainer and blogger at PawLeaks, a site that focuses on dog training and dog behavior. MÃ¼hlenberg paid $1,300 for her 115-pound rottweiler Amalia. A safe approach when thinking about how to budget for a dog is to “always put away more money than you’ve calculated in your budget, so you won’t be overwhelmed by any surprise costs,” she adds.
MÃ¼hlenberg outlines the first-year expenses new dog owners should expect as they resolve how to afford a dog on a budget and some suggestions on managing costs:
Purchase/adoption fees and dog license
The purchase of a purebred puppy from a breeder can cost anywhere from $800 to $1,500 or moreâwhich makes a pure-blooded hound the most expensive type of dog to own. At the other end of the spectrum are the many shelter or rescue dogs in need of a home; they can generally be adopted for as little as a few hundred dollars. You will also need a dog license to bring home your pup, which runs from $10 to $20 on average (and needs to be renewed annually).
- Pro Tip: Once you bring your tail-wagger home from the shelter or breeder, research local vets. Offices in one neighborhood or town can be much pricier than what you’d find if you’re open to a commute.
Upfront medical costs
It can cost between $200 and $800 to spay or neuter a dog at a veterinary clinic. You can typically pay less at a shelter or humane society, where such procedures are often subsidized by donations. In other costs, puppies need an initial exam and special vaccinations that typically run between $75 and $100 (rabies is the only shot required by law, however). Microchipping, while not mandatory, is recommended to help identify your pet if it’s lost or stolen. This procedure costs around $40.
- Pro Tip: Plan to have your dog spayed or neutered. Otherwise, you may pay higher boarding fees and license fees, as well as release fees if your pup is taken in by animal control.
Comfort, training and grooming supplies
Expect to spend another few hundred dollars for a collar and leash ($6 to $50), food bowls ($10 to $50), waste bags ($6 to $20), a crate and bed ($25 to $250), doggie shampoo and brushes ($5 to $10), training pads ($16 to $35), toys ($10 to $200) and the first month’s supply of food ($40 to $60).
- Pro Tip: Supplies like a dog crate or bowl can be found secondhand for a lower cost, sometimes for free. Check online listings for yard sales and giveaway events, where used or unwanted items are given away instead of being sold or thrown away.
Lost time at work
A new puppy needs a lot of attention, which can add to the cost of owning a dog. One in five dog owners took time off from work to care for a new puppy.2 Some puppies have a harder time on their own and can chew up your home and belongings, so it’s worth knowing this upfront in case your pup needs a sitter.
- Pro Tip: Prepare for “puppydom” ahead of time by banking extra personal days or asking about short-term, work-from-home opportunities.
Ongoing expenses for your furry companion
Annual, ongoing costs of owning a dog can vary widely depending on your situation. Why the disparity? It’s due mainly to dog size. For instance, larger dogs eat more food, and if you’re the type of owner that chooses premium kibble over a lower-cost option, that can really add up. Groomers also charge more for larger dogs because of the extra time and care needed to handle them.
MÃ¼hlenberg spends about $1,200 per year on her Rottweiler’s high-end food and another $600 annually for twice-weekly social training sessions. A pricey diet and puppy play camp may fall in the “nice to have” category of dog ownership for some. Dog owners worried about how to afford a dog on a budget can minimize these costs by choosing less expensive canned food and kibble or by making their own dog food. To save on other expenses, MÃ¼ehlenberg grooms her dog at home, makes her own toys and treats and buys pet supplies in bulk.
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To get a handle on how to budget for a dog, here are some of the biggest costs annually that dog owners need to plan for:
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To help relieve the financial burden of how to afford a dog on a budget, you may want to open a savings account for emergencies. MÃ¼hlenberg puts a few hundred dollars aside each month, which can be tapped for unplanned household repairs due to any damage the dog may cause, dog sitting for unexpected travel or illness or other pup-related surprises. The Discover Online Savings Account is one place to hold cash for a dog-only emergency fund and grow your savings.
You earned it.
Now earn more withÂ it.
Online savings with no minimum balance.
Discover Bank, Member FDIC
Invest in keeping your pooch healthy
As you can see, there are a lot of annual costs to consider when determining how to afford a dog on a budgetâand they can really add up, particularly when a pooch gets sick or is involved in an accident. Preventative care such as flea, tick and heartworm medication, which can cost a total of $64 to $320 monthly, and regular vet visits can decrease the risk of an expensive health condition.3
For larger or recurring costs, consider pet insurance (an annual policy costs about $360 to $600).2 Some unexpected expenses can be offset by a pet insurance policy, which “is kind of like a forced savings account,” says Sara Ochoa, DVM, veterinary consultant for product review site DogLab. “You pay the insurance company, and they will pay for most of your pet’s medical bills.” This might go a long way in resolving how to budget for a dog.
For example, a typical pet insurance policy may cover accidents, illness and conditions that are genetic, congenital and chronic, as long as these conditions were not present at the time the policy was purchased.5
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âAlways put away more money than you’ve calculated in your budget, so you won’t be overwhelmed by any surprise costs.”
Ochoa is often able to witness the financial benefits of pet insurance firsthand. She cites one example of a client whose dog had emergency surgery and spent a few nights in the hospital. According to Ochoa, the bill would have cost the owner around $7,000. With their pet insurance, they paid somewhere around $1,000.
Create a happy home for your four-legged friend
In the end, how to budget for a dog just takes some advance planning and preparation, which can help manage the upfront costs and monthly cash cushion required to ensure a happy and healthy dog. By understanding the cost of owning a dog as much as possible, you’ll have less financial stress and more time to focus on play time with your pup.
“Even with the associated costs,” Hynd says, “I don’t for one moment regret our decision [to bring Chewie home].” MÃ¼hlenberg agrees: “Bringing a dog into my life has always been a goal and dream of mine. The love and affection you receive back from a dog are priceless.”
1“The True Cost of Owning a Dog or Cat,” Credit.com
2“The True Cost of Getting a Puppy in 2019,” Rover.com
3“The True Cost of Getting a Dog,” Rover.com
4“5 Reasons to Get Your Dog Licensed,” Cesar’s Way
5“Pet Insurance Coverage: What You Need to Know,” ConsumersAdvocate.org
The post Fido-Proofing Your Budget: Managing the High Cost of Owning a Dog appeared first on Discover Bank – Banking Topics Blog.
2020 has shaped all of us in some way or another financially. Whether it is being reminded of the importance of living within our means or saving for a rainy day, these positive financial habits and lessons are timeless and ones we can take into the new year.Â
While everyone is on a very unique financial journey, we can still learn from each other. As we wrap up this year, it’s important to reflect on some of these positive financial habits and lessons and take the ones we need into 2021. Here are some of the top financial lessons:
Living Within Your Means
Itâs been said for years, centuries even, that one should live within one’s means. Well, I think a lot of people were reminded of this financial principle given the year weâve had. Living within your means is another way of saying donât spend more than you earn. I would take it one step further to say, set up your financial budget so you pay yourself first. Then only spend what is leftover on all the fun or variable items.
Setting up your budget in the Mint app or updating your budget in Mint to reflect the changes in your income or expenses is a great activity to do before the year ends. Follow the 50/20/30Â rule of thumb and ask yourself these questions:
- Are you spending more than you earn?
- Are there fixed bills you can reduce so you can save more for your financial goals?Â
- Can you reduce your variable spending and save that money instead?
The idea is to find a balance that allows you to pay for your fixed bills, save automatically every month and then only spend what is left over. If you donât have the money, then you cannot use debt to buy something. This is a great way to get back in touch with reality and also appreciate your money more.Â
Have a Cash Cushion
Having a cash cushion gives you peace of mind since you know that if anything unexpected comes up, which of course always happens in life, you have money that is easy to liquidate to pay for it versus paying it with debt or taking from long-term investments. Having an adequate cash cushion this year offered some people a huge sigh of relief when they lost their job or perhaps had reduced income for a few months. With a cash cushion or rainy day fund, they were still able to cover their bills with their savings.
Many people are making it their 2021 goal to build, replenish, or maintain their cash cushion.Â Typically, you want a cash cushion of about 3- 6 months of your core expenses. Your cash cushion is usually held in a high-yield saving account that you can access immediately if needed. However, you want to think of it almost as out of sight out of mind so it’s really there for bigger emergencies or opportunities that come up.
Having the right asset allocation and understanding your risk tolerance and timeframe of your investments is always important. With a lot of uncertainty and volatility in the stock market this year, more and more people are paying attention to their portfolio allocation and learning what that really means when it comes to risk and returns. Learning more about which investments you actually hold within your 401(k) or IRA is always important. I think the lesson this year reminded everybody that itâs your money and it’s up to you to know.
Even if you have an investment manager helping you, you still need to understand how your portfolio is allocated and what that means in terms of risk and what you can expect in portfolio volatility (ups and downs) versus the overall stock market. A lot of people watch the news and hear the stock market is going up or down, but fail to realize that may not be how your portfolio is actually performing. So get clear. Make sure that your portfolio matches your long term goal of retirement and risk tolerance and donât make any irrational short term decisions with your long-term money based on the stock market volatility or what the news and media are showcasing.
Right Insurance Coverage
We have all been reminded of the importance of health this year. Our own health and the health of our loved ones should be a top priority. It’s also an extremely important part of financial success over time. It is said, insurance is the glue that can hold everything together in your financial life if something catastrophic happens. Insurances such as health, auto, home, disability, life, long-term care, business, etc. are really important but having the right insurance policy and coverage in place for each is the most important part.
Take time and review all the insurance coverage you have and make sure it is up to date and still accurate given your life circumstances and wishes. Sometimes you may have a life insurance policy in place for years but fail to realize there is now a better product in the marketplace with more coverage or better terms. With any insurance, it is wise to never cancel a policy before you a full review and new policy to replace it already in place. The last thing you want is to be uninsured. Make sure you also have an adequate estate plan whether itâs a trust or will that showcases your wishes very clearly. This way, you can communicate that with your trust/will executorâs, beneficiaries, family members, etc. so they are clear on everything as well.Â
Financial lessons will always be there. Year after year, life throws us challenges and successes to remind us of what is most important. Take time, reflect, and get a game plan in place for 2021 that takes everything you have learned up until now into account. This will help you set the tone for an abundant and thriving new financial year.Â
The post Financial Lessons Learned During the Pandemic appeared first on MintLife Blog.
Want the number to be bigger? Go back through your budget and figure out where you can afford to make cuts. Maybe you can ditch the cable bill and decide between Netflix or Hulu, or replace a takeout lunch with a packed one.
Itâs also the money you can use toward your long-term financial goals.
Youâre in awesome financial shape â and youâve made it to the fun part of this post.
So even though becoming debt-free seems like a big sacrifice right now, youâre doing yourself a huge financial favor in the long run.
You might try to get away with a smaller emergency fund â even ,000 is a better cushion than nothing. But if you lose your job, you still need to be able to eat and make rent.
And the trouble isnât brand-new: Weâve been bad enough at saving for retirement over the past few decades that millions of todayâs seniors canât afford to retire.
Future you will thank you. Heartily. From a hammock.
What to Do Before You Start Writing Your Financial Goals
Now you can figure out exactly what you want to do with it.
You donât need to abandon the idea of having a life (and enjoying it), but there are ways to make budgetary adjustments that work for you.
First Thingâs First: How Much Money Do You Have?
Did you know almost half of Americans have absolutely nothing saved so they can one day clock out for the very last time?
Ideally, youâll want to find other ways to save for retirement, too. Look into individual retirement arrangements (IRAs) and figure out how much you need to contribute to meet your retirement goals.
Saving money is all well and good in theory.
And I do mean all of the expenses â even that .99 recurring monthly payment for your student-discounted Spotify account definitely counts.
- Figure out how much money you have. It might be in checking or savings accounts, including long-term accounts like IRAs. Or, it might be wrapped up in investments or physical assets, like your paid-off car.
- Assess any debts you have. Do you keep a revolving credit card balance? Do you pay a mortgage each month? Are your student loans still hanging around?
You also get to decide the size of your emergency fund, but a good rule of thumb is to accumulate three to six times the total of your monthly living expenses. Good thing your budget is already set up so you know exactly what that number is, right?
One method is known as the debt avalanche method, which involves paying off debt with the highest interest rates first, thereby reducing the overall amount youâll shell out for interest.
Is everything in order? Amazing!
Create a Budget
To help keep you from financial goals like âbuy the coolest toys and cars,â which could easily get you deeply into debt while you watch your credit score plummet, weâve compiled this guide.
You get to analyze your own priorities and decide exactly what to do with your hard-earned cash.
Before you run off to the cool-expensive-stuff store, hold on a second.
Itâll help you set goals and create smart priorities for your money. That way, however you decide to spend your truly discretionary income, you wonât leave the 10-years-from-now version of you in the lurch.
Your expenses probably include rent, electricity, cable or internet, a cell phone plan, various insurance policies, groceries, gas and transportation. It also includes categories like charitable giving, entertainment and travel.
And you need to start now, while compound interest is still on your side. The younger you are, the more time you have to watch those pennies grow, but donât fret if you got a late start â hereâs how to save for retirement in your 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s.
But what are you saving for? If you donât have solid financial goals, all those hoarded pennies might end up in limbo when they could be put to good use.
And if youâre operating without a budget, it can be easy to run out of money well before you run out of expenses â even if you know exactly how much is in your paycheck.
Jamie Cattanach (@jamiecattanach) is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.
A ton of great digital apps can help you do this â here are our favorite budgeting apps â but it can be as simple as a spreadsheet or even a good, old-fashioned piece of paper. It just takes two steps:
See? Itâs all about priorities.
So sit down and take a good, hard look at all of your financial info.
You might plan to travel more, take time off work to spend with family or drive the hottest new Porsche.
Setting Financial Goals
Once youâve learned your net worth, you need to start thinking about a working budget.
It also offers me the opportunity to see what I prioritize â and to revise those priorities if I see fit.
- Build an emergency fund.
- Pay down debt.
- Plan for retirement.
- Set short-term and long-term financial goals.
If your job offers a 401(k) plan, take advantage of it â especially if your employer will match your contributions! Trust me, the sting of losing a percentage of your paycheck will hurt way less than having to work into your golden years.
By writing down my short- and long-term financial goals and approximately how long I expect it will take to achieve each, I can figure out what to research and how aggressively I need to plan for each goal.
Make a list of your debts and (ideally) donât spend any of your spare money on anything but paying them off until the number after every account reads âFiguring out where your money should go might seem daunting, but itâs actually a lot of fun.
1. Build an Emergency Fund
You canât decide on your short- or long-term financial goals if you donât know how much money you have or where itâs going.
Print out the last two or three months of statements from your credit and debit cards and categorize every expense. You can often find ways to save by discovering patterns in your spending habits.
But thereâs one more very important long-term financial goal you most definitely want to keep in mind: retirement.
Take the full amount of money you owe and subtract it from the total amount you have, which you discovered in step one. The difference between the two is your net worth. Thatâs the total amount of money you have to your name.
2. Pay Down Debt
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Congratulations. Youâre in control of your money.
This will essentially be a document with your total monthly income at the top and a list of all the expenses you need to pay for every month.
Make a list of the goals you want to achieve with your money and which category they fall into. Then you can figure out how to prioritize your savings for each objective.
For example, some of my goals have included:
Your financial goals should be (mostly) in this order:
Thereâs lots of great information out there about how to pay off debt, but itâs really a pretty simple operation: You need to put every single penny you can spare toward your debts until they disappear.
Finding money to sock away each month can be tough, but just starting with or of each paycheck can help.
If you ever want to stop working, you need to save up the money youâll use for your living expenses.
3. Plan for Retirement
Set the numbers youâre willing to spend in each category, and stick to them.
Congratulations! Weâre almost done with the hard part, I promise.
If it seems like a lot, cool. Hang tight and donât let it burn a hole in your pocket. Weâre not done yet.
Many experts suggest making sure you have an emergency fund in place before aggressively going after your debt.
Because youâre wasting money on interest charges you could be applying toward your goals instead.
No matter your goals, itâs helpful to categorize them by how long theyâll take to save for.
If youâre motivated by quick wins, the debt snowball method may be a good fit for you. It involves paying off one loan balance at a time, starting with the smallest balance first.
But if youâre hemorrhaging money on sky-high interest charges, you might not have much expendable cash to put toward savings.
You can make the process a lot easier by automating your savings. Or you can have money from each paycheck automatically sent to a separate account you wonât touch.
If it seems likeâ¦ not a lot, well, you can fix that. Keep reading.
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4. Set Short-Term and Long-Term Financial Goals (the Fun Part!)
Maybe you want to have a six-course meal at the finest restaurant in the world or work your way through an extensive list of exotic and expensive wines. (OK, Iâll stop projecting.)
What experiences or things can your money buy to significantly increase your quality of life and happiness?
Now, letâs move on to repaying debt. Whyâs it so important, anyway?
Itâll depend on your individual case â for instance, I totally have âwineâ as a budget line item.
As a bonus, if your credit score could be better, repaying revolving debt will also help you repair it â just in case some of your goals (like buying a home) depend upon your credit report not sucking.
Start by listing how much you actually spent in each category last month. Subtract your total expenses from your total income. The difference should be equal to the amount of money left sitting in your bank account at monthâs end.
All right, youâre all set in case of an emergency and youâre living debt-free.
We say âmostlyâ because itâs ultimately up to you to decide in which order you want to accomplish them.
After all, even if something seems like exactly what you want right now, it might not be in future-youâs best interest. And youâre playing the long gameâ¦ thatâs why theyâre called goals!
- Short-term financial goal: Save spending money for a trip overseas.
- Medium-term financial goal: Pay off my car within a year, or sell it â and its onerous loan â and buy an older car I can own free and clear.
- Long-term financial goal: Buy a house I can use as a home base and increase my income by renting it out while I travel. This will probably take me through the rest of my 20s.
But to make the most of your money, follow a few best practices while setting your goals.
For example, if you have a ,500 revolving balance on a credit card with a 20% APR, it gets priority over your ,000, 5%-interest car loan â even though the second number is so much bigger.
Consider the funds you have left â and those youâll continue to earn â after taking care of all the financial goals above. Now think: What do you want to do with your money?
Itâs pretty hard to argue against having more money in the bank.
That means youâll pay the interest for a lot longer â and pay a lot more of it â if you wait to pay it down until you have a solid emergency fund saved up.