#FinHealthMatters: Fresh Finance

By: Eric Patrick, BlackMarketExchange

(Photo: Lenny Yusay)

Spring 2011. That’s when I graduated from Howard University’s pharmacy school. I felt like I hit the lotto. No more waiting on refund checks, which at the time felt like a million dollars. I was now going to be a licensed pharmacist with a paycheck that was sure to prevent me from mission a meal. Or so I thought.

To many times, we think that once we graduate from college we’re going to land these high paying salary jobs that will take care of us beyond measure. There are 138 million adults that are struggling financially and even though I made more money, I was definitely one of them.

Not only did my pay go up, but also so did my bills. Like the 43% of Americans that struggle to pay bills and credit card payments, I was knee deep in debt and barely living paycheck to paycheck.

I knew something had to change and that’s when I truly defined what financial health meant to me. In my opinion, financial health isn’t just about a dollar value. It’s about a way of life. It’s about feel free to do the things you want to do because you know you’ve done the things you need to do.

Although student loans the biggest financial hindrance for new college grads, there are other financial elements that can easily be kept in check when the proper steps are implemented. These steps include:

1. Budgeting — This simply keeping an accurate account of your income compared to your expenses. You have to know what’s coming in and going out to truly know where you are financially.

2. Saving — Paying yourself first is key. Many people say you must save 10%, but that’s not always healthy for every individual’s particular situation. On the flip side, that number can’t be 0% either. Find a nice balance in your budget, even if it’s just $10 a week. Something is better than nothing.

3. Debt elimination — You must eradicate your debt as much as possible. Trying the debt snowball or avalanche method can truly put a dent in your liabilities as well as boost your financial morale in the process.

4. Investing — This is where you truly begin to grow your money and transition into financial freedom. Compound interest is the 8th wonder of the world according to Albert Einstein. Let your money work for you, not against you.

In essence, financial health isn’t just about a paycheck. It’s about knowing your money moves inside and out so you can be financially fit.

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This blog post originally appeared June 29, 2016 on BlackMarketExchange. It was one of 10 winners of a national #FinHealthMatters Day essay contest created by CFSI. MetLife Foundation is a major sponsor of CFSI’s ongoing consumer financial health work. To learn more about FinHealthMatters from CFSI, sign up here.

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