2020 has been quite the year, to say the least. With only one month left, everyone is ready to put the year behind us and try to start fresh. From the coronavirus pandemic to economic shut downs, many have felt the financial strain. If you are looking to start 2021 off on a better financial note, these seven moves will (hopefully) help make your year less stressful.
Financial Move #1: Spend Smartly
Make your 2021 mantra an easy one: spend less, reduce stress. Before you buy, ask yourself "will this actually improve the quality of my life?". If the answer is no or if it will just add clutter to your home (which can also add stress) then skip the purchase.
You can start small, by doing things such as:
- Foregoing your morning latte and brewing a pot at home instead
- Cooking at home rather than going out to dinner
- Not buying new clothes regularly
- Checking for a new phone plan
- Waiting a few days and really considering each purchase to limit impulse spending
The above things can become a lifestyle change and something that you can implement into your everyday life.
Financial Move #2: Reduce Debt
Getting rid of, or at least reducing, your credit card debt can relieve an immense amount of financial stress. Start by paying off the credit cards that have the highest interest rate before working your way down the line to lower-interest loans. Making small changes can start becoming more of a lifestyle, therefore making it easier to reduce your debt. If you need help creating a plan to eliminate debt, please check out Dave Ramsey's "Debt Snowball". Dave's program works!
Financial Move #3: Track Expenses
If you track exactly where your money is going, it will give you a greater idea of where your overall financial picture stands. Simply understanding where your money is going can help you to really own it, which in turn, can start to reduce financial stress.
Financial Move #4: Trade “Stuff” for Experiences
While you are still spending money here, research shows that people enjoy experiences more than possessions, so this is a great way to make better use of our money. Rather than buying a new outfit, you could spend your money on:
- Cooking classes
- Traveling (when safe to do so)
- Art classes
- Spending more time with friends and family
Whatever it may be, this will prevent stress and burnout while providing you with positive memories.
Financial Move #5: Read Financial Success Stories
Simply reading success stories is a great way to change your mindset when it comes to a healthier financial lifestyle. If you read about people who have been in your situation and were able to pay off debt, start earning more money or just overcome some type of financial hardship, then you can become inspired and start to implement these tactics into your own life. As an avid Dave Ramsey believer, I highly recommend the book "The Total Money Makeover" by Dave Ramsey. You can also check out Dave's YouTube videos and podcasts. A lot of folks find great hope, joy, and motivation in listening to him speak.
Financial Move #6: Create an Emergency Fund
It can be difficult to comprehend creating an emergency fund when you are already financially stressed. But whenever you can, put any extra money aside at the end of the month into an emergency fund for unexpected expenses, such as house repairs, car repairs or healthcare costs. At Innovative Retirement, LLC we recommend having 6 months of "living expenses" set aside in an emergency fund. The purpose of this money is not to earn a lot, but rather to be there liquid & available when an emergency comes up.
Financial Move #7: Start a Spending Plan
Once you’ve worked diligently to reduce debt and build an emergency fund, start a spending plan. When you do this, you’ll need to track your income while making a plan for all that you are earning. You can prioritize your spending once you have allocated the funds to cover expenses. This should hopefully help you breathe a little easier as you spend money while staying on track. We give our client's a "personal expense worksheet" to help them with their budgeting. This document also tells us how much we spend on a monthly basis. Multiply your monthly expenses by 6 to arrive at your emergency fund goal.
2020 has been hard on everyone, personally, professionally and financially. As we prepare for the upcoming year, use these tips to help reduce financial stress as we all work towards a better year.
This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information, and provided by Twenty Over Ten. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.