Establishing Financial Goals in 2018

Establishing Financial Goals in 2018

By: Olivia Symone (@iamoliviasymone)

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Okay, let's be honest! This year alone we have watched so many people make money. Not to say that everybody desires to have that much money (and we’re talking “Beyoncé money” …no better yet “50 Cent money” after signing an eight-figure contract with Starz), but it does put pressure on the amount of money we make now, and how much of it we spend wisely.

We all have goals for 2018, so let’s make being financially responsible (and literate) one of them! Saving, investing and spending, all come with a price. Everyone won’t invest in stocks, and most people don’t have a hefty savings account; but, there are a few tricks and tips I have for the person who wants to learn more about finances. These tips and tricks will help you be aware of the best ways to stay financially sound throughout 2018.

Have an Emergency Fund (of at least $1,000)

The normal emergency fund should be six months of living expenses. Although it can take years to develop that amount of money into a savings account, it is a possibility ($1,000 is the prime amount to get started).  Once you have reached the thousand-dollar goal, then work on the six-month fund. A couple ways to save without thinking about it are keep the change features at some banks, where they round up your purchases and puts the difference in your savings, or apps like “Digit,” who automatically save on your behalf based on your spending.

Get Serious About Retirement

Talk to your current employer about retirement. If you’re unsure if you’re enrolled in your job’s retirement plan, more than likely your Human Resource team enrolled you at the base percentage. If they did, that’s great, but if you can afford to bump up your percentage by one or two, take full advantage of it. Majority of the time, money saved through a retirement plan is pre-taxed and fall within companies matching agreement (where they match whatever you save by a certain percentage).

Lower Debt Balances

For those of us with credit card debt, we know how this can be a burden. One alternative to putting energy into paying everything off is putting energy into getting all your balances to under thirty percent of your balance. Although lowering your debt amount will take time and dedication, when you succeed you will quickly see the benefits in the form of a better credit score, and more financial opportunities when looking to purchase a home, new care, or secure an apartment.

One tip that helped me, is putting an extra $20-30 into a card every week. This trick helps the interest fees and gets you one step closure to playing down your balance. During this challenge to lower debt, be sure to keep track of your credit score. There are so many websites, FREE, that will tell you your credit score and even give you suggestions on how to improve them. Another way is through your bank. Most institutions have your credit score available via the website or mobile app. A few websites I’ve used are Experian, Credit Karma, and Credit Sesame.

Budget

Now, we’ve reached the final step…budgeting. Now to me, budgeting is just like dieting; it feels like you’re depriving yourself of what you really want, but that’s not true. It may take a slight mindset shift to no longer find value in living beyond your means or splurging on things you don’t need, but it’s worth it if you can. There are plenty of apps and creative ways to put money away and feel good about it.

In 2018, I plan to start using the cash envelope method. This is where you can put cash in envelopes for certain things like hair, groceries, etc. This is a strict way to only use what you allotted, any extra goes straight to the savings. Another way is getting a notebook and literally just doing checks and balances (this is more for the traditional budgeter). If you’re more of a “techy,” there’s a mobile app called “Mint” that helps with staying on top of budgets and bills, as well as spending power.

Trust me, I get it when it comes to talking about finances because let’s face it, finances can be a hard topic to discuss. Whether we like or not, in combination with other things, money is one of the most important necessities we have. If we mismanage it, we can literally ruin our lives, but if we really take the time to build it, and get knowledgeable about it, it can set us up for great success. With that said, let’s use 2018 as the start to financial freedom, and new spending habits. Happy Saving!