Are your financially unfit, unhealthy and on a slippery slope? Do you want to have some peace of mind to concentrate on enjoying life? Well, it can be done! With a bit of planning and changing some habits, your finances can be fit and healthy and set you up for long term success.
Here are 10 steps to getting financially healthy:
1. Write down a budget
Yes, write it down on paper so you can see it. Black on white. Create a budget that works for you and that you understand. Communicate your financial situation and goals with your partner, so you can work together to stick to the plan. Track your spending from month to month so you can refine the budget, but also to understand where your money is going.
2. Spend less than you earn
No matter how big or small your income is, you will never get ahead if you spend more than you earn. Focus firstly on reducing expenses. If you really struggle to get by, consider improving your skills to move to a higher paid position, get a second job or start a business on the side.
3. Pay off debt
Pay off all credit cards, car loans and any other debt you might have. Get rid of credit cards altogether if the temptation to use them is too hard for you to handle. Pay off the smallest ones first, so you can see some progress and get motivated to tackle the larger ones.
4. Build an emergency fund
Emergencies are a fact of life. But with an emergency fund available, it will only be an emergency, not a crisis. However, use this money for real emergencies; a sale at your favourite store does not count as an emergency.
5. Take care of your health and wellbeing
You might think that this doesn’t belong in a list of financial health. But by looking after your own physical and mental health, you can save lots. You not only save on medical bills and expenses, but you will also be able to take less sick leave, handle stress better and be able to perform your work more efficiently.
6. Pay extra on the mortgage
Making extra payments on your mortgage can decrease it significantly and you can save literally thousands of dollars, slashing years off the mortgage period. As little as $500 extra per month can save you 6 years, or $180k on a $500k mortgage.
7. Contribute to your retirement plan
By contributing extra money to your superfund, you can grow your ‘nest egg’ even more. Some companies will even match your payments up to a certain amount. If you are on a lower income, you may be eligible for bonus contributions from the government.
8. Invest and understand your investments
Once you have paid off all your debt, including the mortgage, you may want to consider investing. Don’t get involved in investments you don’t understand. Rather focus on investments that are slow and steady growing and not to make a quick fortune.
9. Get financial advice
Many people don’t have the knowledge, time or inclination to manage their finances well. Some people find it difficult to keep up to date with all the different investment options, risks involved and implications. A good financial advisor will be able to help you set up your goals as well as outline the steps to achieve them.
10. Celebrate your successes along the way
Yes, you may celebrate that last car payment, the growing emergency fund, the first investment, the growing nest egg. We need to celebrate the victories along the way, as this can be a slow process. You are building a legacy for the people coming after you, and that is worth celebrating!