What is the sign of a good financial decision?
It’s preparing for the unexpected to help protect the lifestyle you have worked so hard to achieve. Women play a pivotal role in the economic vitality of our society. You have worked hard for everything you’ve achieved – as an employee, business owner or even “mompreneur” – and throughout it all you’ve remained the backbone of your family unit.
Unfortunately, all those demands on your time can distract you from taking appropriate steps to get your family – and yourself – on track financially. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The following five steps are designed to help you in your journey to greater financial security.
Step #1: Be honest with yourself
Take a good, hard look at where you and your family members spend money. Adjust your budget and your spending pattern to reflect a vested interest in your financial future – not just the extra stuff that might seem important now, but won’t matter much to you down the road. (Keep some fun money in your budget; however, so you and your family members don’t feel deprived.)
Step #2: Manage your money – and your debt – wisely
If you are overspending on your credit cards and finding yourself paying the minimum balance each month, you should consider getting your use of credit under control. It is critical that you have a good handle on both your budget and your credit score. Be sure to check out valuable consumer-oriented websites, such as www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/moneymatters/index.html from the Federal Trade Commission. It’s an excellent resource for those who are looking to manage money – and debt – for greater long-term financial security.
Step #3: Plan for the unexpected
Recently, many Americans began to save more when they realized that job security was not something they could rely on – others faced the harsh reality of trying to pay their bills with substantially less income (or none at all), thanks to a layoff or reduced work schedule. Do you have enough money stashed away for a rainy day? I know you have heard this before but it is advised that you should have at least six months of expenses saved in case of an emergency. It won’t take long if you set your mind to it and start saving right away. Start small if you have to, but start now. Tip: Save a set amount from each paycheck, in an account separate from your checking, that is earmarked for emergencies only. Think of it as a regular bill you must pay.
Step #4: Talk about the hard stuff
It is never easy to have difficult conversations. But the unexpected can – and unfortunately, does– happen sometimes. Whether you are married, single, divorced, have children, care for aging parents or a disabled loved one, bringing up the subject of death or disability – or even divorce – can be painful. However, it is important that you think about these life events and how they would affect you or someone you love if they were to occur. Preparing for the unexpected is a good decision; it can help you to protect the lifestyle you have worked so hard to achieve.
Step #5: Start a family finances action plan
With a to-do list a mile long, most families are struggling to keep it all together. But despite busy schedules, it’s important to talk to your family about your finances and concerns. Consider setting aside an hour once a week—or every other week at the very least—to talk through your current expense issues, financial goals and savings plan. A weekly or bi-weekly checkpoint can be a good way to start a healthy dialogue about your family’s financial goals.
Of course, also choosing a knowledgeable, local financial professional can help you and your family get – and stay – on track financially.
Image Credit: Lychee Therapeutics