Now more than ever, people are looking for ways to manage their finances more efficiently and truly stretch their pennies. If you're wondering what to do about your money situation, you need to know where to start. These tips will help you decide on your financial goals, create budgets, and learn how to stick to them so that you create a better financial present and plan for the future of your family at the same time.
1. Set Personal Finance Goals
Efficient management of your personal finances requires a priority or goal for you to work toward. Maybe it's a long-term goal, like retirement. Perhaps you'd like to get a new TV. Regardless of the goal, having one will help you to stay on track with the budget you create for yourself. Perhaps you just want to free up more of your time. Consider hiring housekeeping as a personal financial goal that allows you to spend more time with friends and family on the weekends. Deciding which goals you'd like to accomplish with your finances is the first step to creating a budget you'll truly stick to.
2. Consolidate Your Current Debt
Are you paying down debt on several credit cards or personal loans at one time? If you are, you're just like about 80% of other Americans. The problem is that getting that much debt under control is much harder when you have multiple creditors and due dates. Consolidating your debt helps you stay organized by allowing you to pay your bills to one creditor at just one time each month. In addition, consolidating your debt makes it easier for you to get a low interest rate, which could save you money in the long run. Look for options that allow you to combine credit cards, payday loans, and other personal loans into one bill for the best results.
3. Find an Alternative to a Logbook Loan
If you've ever wondered, "how much can I get on a logbook loan?," chances are not as much as you need. Of course, if you can get by without any loan, that's the best option. However, if you do need financial help, avoid logbook loans. These old-fashioned methods do nothing to protect you, the consumer. Instead, consider an alternative option, such as vehicle equity release. Lending based on vehicle equity release doesn't require a logbook or spare key and provides better protection for the consumer. There are no credit checks, and annual percentage rates are often much lower than they are for traditional logbook lenders.
4. Save for Retirement and Emergencies
Part of being financially secure is ensuring you're ready for anything, including emergency financial needs. Before you start budgeting for that vacation, make sure you're putting money back for your future. When creating an emergency fund, the idea is to have at least three months' worth of expenses, although six is preferable. This protects you in case of a serious situation like unexpected layoffs, a major illness, or major car repairs. Try to put aside at least 10% of each paycheck toward this fund, and try to put another 10-20% aside for retirement. Keep in mind that social security only replaces about 40% of what you make, so be sure to take advantage of any IRAs, 401(k), or other retirement plan options you have available to you.
5. Take Advantage of Personal Finance Apps
It's the digital age. There is no need to keep your finance information on literal paper anymore unless you want to. However, personal finance apps are much easier to maintain and are available no matter where you are. Whether you choose a free app or one with paid features, you'll be able to track your monthly and annual expenses, link all your accounts, and see data that helps you to make smarter decisions with your money.
Just like many things in life, finding budget resources that work for you is sometimes a trial-and-error process. If at first you don't succeed, don't give up. Reevaluate instead. Determine what isn't working for you and why, and then do the legwork to make changes. Eventually, you'll find a financial plan and a way to stick to it that works for you.