Ready for some good news to ring in the New Year? “Everybody has the power to be wealthy. “It’s just about taking the necessary steps to get there.”
First step: Organize your budget and set up a concrete financial strategy for 2017—and beyond. Studies have shown that those who make commitments related to their cash flow feel more financially secure and carry less debt. Even if you’re feeling pretty flush this January, putting together a long-term fiscal plan could give you a better grasp on your #lifegoals.
We consulted with Rapley and Lauren Bowling, the money expert behind L Bee and the Money Tree, for their pro tips on getting your accounts in top shape this calendar year.
Commit to saving.
“Living paycheck to paycheck, when you make enough to cover your expenses and then some, is a recipe for disaster,” says Bowling. “In addition to saving for emergencies, you need to be preparing for retirement.” She recommends kicking off this “rainy day” fund with $1,000 and working your way up from there.
One way to jump-start savings is to launch a side hustle, or an extra gig in which you control the hours you put in as well as your earning potential (note to self: put those funds aside for that aforementioned rainy day). “The fact that I am my own boss I can say, hey I want to make this much money, or I want to make that much money,” says Avon Representative Shaundre Bryson.
Crunch some numbers.
Break out the calculator and subtract your monthly expenses from your monthly income. This will give an idea of how much extra cash you can put into savings, pay off debt, or invest. Use a stylish day planner (also great for keeping track of payment due dates), a handy finance app, or a good old Excel sheet to track your earnings and expenses all year.
Separate needs from wants.
“The people who are the most financially successful understand sacrifice,” Rapley tells us. It’s time to do some spending soul-searching to eliminate those “essential” expenses that might be anything but. “You don’t have to cut out all of your wants, but you need to narrow them down so that they fit in your budget.” For instance, doing your manicures at home in 2017 could save you upwards of $600 in a year.
Organizing your finances is about determining the concrete steps you can take to improve your financial situation over time. Allocate a portion of your budget every month to pay off a certain card or put into savings. Bowling suggests automating a fraction of your paycheck to go into savings well before it hits the account you use to pay bills and do your spending.
How much money do you need to make your long-term goals happen? Calculate the savings you’ll need to afford a down payment on your dream home or start your own business down the road. “Get clear on what you want in your life,” says Rapley, “and decide what financial goals you need to accomplish to make that life happen.”
Invest in yourself.
Bowling says investing in yourself—whether that means preparing for retirement or going back to school—is the best thing you can do with your money. And Rapley advises that if you’re in a sound financial position, you shouldn’t be afraid to invest in something you love that won’t necessarily earn cash back. “Whether it’s dance or pottery classes—you also want to enjoy your life.”
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