Developing and maintaining great money habits can help you lay the foundation for achieving your financial goals. Here are some ideas.
- Establish a budget and review it at regular intervals. Create a workable budget every year then set aside time to review your budget periodically. This will help you think critically about where your money is going and help you eliminate old, destructive money habits.
- Calculate your net worth. Your net worth is an indicator of your financial health and how you manage your money. To calculate your net worth, add all your money and assets, then subtract the total amount you owe to others. The result is your net worth. Often this result is negative due to things like student loans, high credit card balances, or underwater debt (e.g. you owe more on your car than it is worth). So don’t worry about the result, just know what your net worth is so you can improve it over time. Like reviewing your budget, a regular check-in on your net worth allows you to think more about your finances and take the necessary action to improve it.
- Use sinking funds to plan. A sinking fund is an account where money is set aside to repay debt or replace a wasting asset (like a car that loses value over time). So create a sinking fund in your budget. Then decide how to use it. Given the rising rate environment, the best use is typically paying down any credit card debt. Then use the fund to attack any other debt, like pre-payment of mortgages. Also consider building a sinking fund to pay for future expenses, like replacing your car, furnace, roof or other large expense so you are ready when it needs replacement.
- Stay curious about personal finance. Your financial picture changes as your life changes, which is why it’s important to always learn something new about money that you can apply to your situation. Pick several books, blogs, podcasts, and videos that look interesting, as they may offer a fresh perspective on tips to improve your finances.
Once you understand the basics of your financial situation, it’s time to sit down and proactively plan ahead. Two of the most critical areas you can prepare for are minimizing your taxes and saving for retirement. So plan ahead and feel free to ask for help.