Managing your hard-earned money: 5 tips to help reach financial independence.
There you are again, working diligently until your next paycheck only to realize that you’re no better off than last month. You’ll still splurge out without a thought once you get it and you’ll barely scratch together enough pennies to cope before the next one. You can surely do better.
The following 5 tips will give a fair overview of what really matters in personal finance management and how to break out of this vicious circle.
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Take care of the obvious
Before you start looking into which saving accounts to open or stocks to invest into, make sure you’ve got the basics covered. Ignorance of the little things ends in needless loss of your hard-earned money.
Make it your style to read all the contracts before signing your name on the dotted line and periodically review credit card statements for erroneous charges, fraud and identity theft.
Open bills as soon as you receive them, don’t overspend on gifts, properly maintain your car, property and take good care of your belongings. In addition, practice the fine art of self-control. Even though you can easily purchase an item on credit right now, it’s far better save up the money in advance than pay interest.
Monitor where your money goes
You’ve heard this advice before: keep a spending budget. It works, because it awakens you from the ignorance of your financial situation. Monitoring and managing your small, everyday expenses can go a long way in improving your financial situation — it may even amount to a small raise.
In some cases, just kicking bad habits can save you a fortune. Stay away from cigarettes and the Stupid Tax, otherwise known as lottery. Crucially, try not to carry easily spendable loose change in your pockets and don’t cover up your temporary financial shortfalls with high-interest payday loans.
It is also vitally important, that you set aside money for an emergency fund. Not only will the extra money help you rest more easily at night, it will also make sure that an unexpected injury or eviction from your rented apartment doesn't wreak havoc with next month’s finances. Just be sure to resist the urge to spend it on non-emergencies.
Learn to manage your money, or other’s will find ways to mis-manage it for you. Commission-based financial planners will try to discombobulate you with fancy financial jargon and push you into expensive options, which pay them when you sign up with the investments his or her company backs.
Personal finance knowledge will go a long way. Learn about interests and mortgage options. Pay attention to mortgage interest rates — even after a home purchase. If you don’t, you might miss opportunities to refinance your obligation, which could save you thousands over the lifespan of the loan.
Furthermore, use common sense. If you find yourself entangled in multiple debt obligations, repay the highest interest loan first. If you’re saving, don’t just stuff money into your pillow — put it in a high-interest online savings account. Else, inflation will chip away the value of your savings.
Save for retirement
If you reach the age of 65 in the OECD, you can expect, on average, to live for another 19 years. With low fertility rates and pay-as-you-go pension systems commonplace in most countries, you can be sure that your pension fund will experience even more severe strains in the future as there simply won’t be enough working-age adults by the time you’re in your dotage.
In an era of high old-age dependency ratio, the only rational thing to do is to save privately — the earlier you start the better. Compound interest rates are wonderful when they are on your side.
Let us assume a return of 4% a year on our pension plan. That means our savings in 18 years will double, quadruple in 36 and after 54 we’ll have eight times more than what we started with. Let’s say you have a specific sum in mind for your retirement. That means that if you start saving at 20, you need to contribute only half as much money a month, than if you were to start at 30. That’s the power of compound interest rates.
Guard your hard-earned money
To keep your hard-earned pennies from vanishing, you’ll need to take steps to protect them. Insure your property from the unfortunate events of fire and burglary. If you need help managing your money, find a fee-only financial planner to provide unbiased advice that’s in your best interest.
You’ll also want to protect your money from taxes (which can be limited with a retirement account) and inflation (which can be compensated for with high-interest savings accounts, stocks, bonds, and mutual funds).
And if you only take away one thing
Everyone is fully capable of responsibly managing their finances.
Don’t spend your free time in a second job, working unsocial-hours or overtime just for the extra income. Strive to do better with the pay you already bring home by actively managing your personal finances.
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