It can be easy to get overwhelmed and ignore the things giving us anxiety during times of financial uncertainty or economic downturn. However, during this time, it’s important to make adjustments to ensure that you’re on track with your financial goals and adapt your finances accordingly. It’s crucial to maintain focus on the task at hand and not get distracted. Things will eventually get better, and you should be ready for them. To stay on top of your finances, here are ten tips to set you up for a successful financial future.
Tip #1: Build up those emergency reserves
An emergency fund is a beneficial tool to ensure you have the necessary funds to get through any financial crisis. It can be hard to save money, but setting money aside is essential. Having a cash cushion can help when in debt and keep you focused on the things that are important to you. This fund will help you in the future should the day arise you need to tap into your emergency reserves. If you don’t have an emergency fund, now is a great time to start. Experts recommend having at least three to six months of income set aside, though if you’re not in a position to do this, you can always add to your fund when convenient.
Tip #2: Create a budget
Creating a budget can be a dreaded task, but it is the single best thing you can do for your finances. It can help you make informed decisions and keep you focused on the things that are important to you. Contrary to popular belief, budgeting does not mean you are “broke”; some of the wealthiest people in the world use a budget. A budget gives you the power to track your expenses and make adjustments, allowing you to have better control of your financial future.
Take the time this week to create a budget if you haven’t already. Record and categorize all your expenses, and review them to determine what is serving you versus just depleting your funds. As a basic guideline, it’s suggested that half of your income should go towards necessities like rent, groceries, and credit cards; 30% should be allotted for more flexible activities such as going to the gym, traveling, or eating out; and the remaining 20% (if possible) should be contributed to savings and investments, including an emergency fund.
Tip #3: Cut back on unnecessary spending
After creating your budget, look to see what you can do without in order to increase your financial flexibility; this is especially important during times of uncertainty. This will help you to set aside more money for savings or an emergency. See what might not be necessary to save yourself more money in the near term. A flexible budget can help you manage your expenses and keep you focused on the things that matter to you.
Tip #4: Live within your means
Living within your means can be challenging for many people – a simple concept many struggle with. If you are relying on your credit card to get by, then you may be living beyond your means. Take a look at your credit card statements for the past several months to see how much you have been spending and how much interest you have paid. If you still have a balance that doesn’t seem to be dropping, then it’s time to reevaluate your financial situation.
Tip #5: Prioritize your debt payments
Managing debt has become a harsh reality for many Americans, as evidenced by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s report, which found that the total U.S. household debt is currently at an all-time high of $13.29 trillion. Paying off your debt is essential, but this may be even more of a priority during an economic recession. Each month, those payments keep you from financial stability. Paying down your debts is essential, especially during an economic downturn, as it can prevent you from contributing more towards your emergency funds, savings, and investments.
Tip #6: Get financially organized
If you don’t take the time to organize all of your financial documents (including bank statements, tax returns, credit card statements, legal documents, mortgage info, investment statements, etc.), it will be impossible to get your financial life in order. It’s worth it to spend an hour setting up a filing system or folder to keep all of your important paperwork in one place. Additionally, make a list of your bills with their interest rates (if applicable) and the payment due dates to give you an overview of when to schedule your payments. This can be a daunting task, but it’s worth it to ensure that you have all of the necessary documents organized.
Tip #7: Diversify your investments
Essentially, diversifying your investments means avoiding putting all your eggs in one basket. This means that you should not only diversify your investments but also ensure that you’re not invested in one particular industry or company. By doing this, you’ll be taking a responsible step towards investing that will help you maximize your returns.
Tip #8: Consider refinancing any major loans
When interest and mortgage rates are low, think about refinancing your home or any large loan. Before starting the process, you should thoroughly research the different options available to you. However, refinancing may not be the best option for you, so it is wise to consult an expert before signing a new agreement.
Tip #9: Invest in yourself
If you’ve been considering trying something new, now is as perfect a time as any! Take advantage of the next few months by devoting some time to mastering a skill or starting that side hustle. Do some research and find a good instructional guide, sign up for an online tutorial, or watch some how-to videos on YouTube. Even though your current situation may not be ideal, you can still keep growing and improving yourself!
Tip #10: Focus on the long haul
No matter how tough times may seem, tough people make it through. Maintaining perspective, calmness, patience, and focusing on what you can control are key to weathering any financial storm. Keep contributing to your retirement, and remember that your future self is depending on your actions today. With the proper financial measures in place, you’ll be ready when the economy recovers.