Health, wealth, and happiness are motivators for many people and with 2014 underway you may be looking to increase YOUR wealth and financial well-being. That's certainly been on my mind - looking for ways to cut back or budget and save in a better way.
Both spending and saving are important subjects to consider when looking at your financial health. When thinking about spending, budgeting is incredibly important. It's smart to recognize your fixed costs like your rent or a mortgage, then intelligently estimate what other expenses you might have - utilities, entertainment, food, shopping. Need help budgeting? There's a great website/phone app I utilize that has helped immensely:
- Mint - you give this secured site limited access to your bank account information and in turn it puts together statistics on your spending and helps you to more accurately understand and budget your money.
So that covers spending...but what about saving? Local financial planner Liz Moeller had some GREAT advice for us.
- Contribute to your 401-k to the fullest extent allowable. If your company matches what you contribute in any way, that's FREE money. Start contributing with your first job and take advantage of that asset as early as possible. Even though it's not accessible until later, it's incredibly beneficial in the long-run.
- "Pay yourself first" - this means budget a contribution to a savings account EVERY MONTH! Agree with yourself to put back $10, $25, $50 or even more so that you can save for emergency situations.
- Aim to have saved up three to six months' worth of rent/mortgage payments in case you would lose your job or decide to quit.
Another saving method that may be more fun and a little more visually gratifying - the 52-Week Challenge! Follow it and by the end of one year you'll have almost $1400 saved up. Good luck, and get saving!