Looking into your financial future can be frightening. After all, it’s hard enough to think about managing your money now, let alone years down the road. And yet, with a few simple changes to your lifestyle and money management, you can look to the future with peace of mind, instead of fear. Here are 7 steps to a more secure financial future.
It might sound oversimplified, but the foundation of your financial future is you. The first step to a secure financial future involves taking some time to assess your earning potential, your happiness, and your strengths. If your current situation is far from ideal, take steps toward investing in yourself and your strengths. Find a balance in life that contemplates both your happiness and your earning ability. That doesn’t necessarily mean giving up your current gig all at once, but it does mean doing little things to start down the road toward a happier and more financially healthy you.
The next step to a more secure financial future is to define your goals. What does it mean to you to be secure in your future finances? When do you want to retire? Do you have kids you want to send to college? Maybe you have a vacation coming up in the not-so-distant future. Every one of your goals should be planned for. And, that means spelling out your short-term, mid-term, and long-term financial goals and making a defined plan to accomplish them.
No matter what you do for a living, it’s always a good idea to put your money to work for you. Do some research or talk with a financial adviser to see which investments are right for you and your situation. There are plenty of investment options out there, and each carries a different level of risk depending on the market, but with a little research and some helpful advice, a little money can go a long way when invested wisely.
One of the mortal enemies of a secure financial future is high-interest debt. Make a plan to pay off high-interest loans, especially consumer loans, and then find a way to stay debt free. That might mean taking steps to curtail your spending, it might include looking for better ways to accumulate wealth, and it might be as simple as switching to a better credit card with a low APR and no fees.
For many, a secure financial future is defined as a worry-free retirement. And yet, faith is failing when it comes to many traditional retirement options, including Social Security. To be secure in your financial future and retirement, start saving for when your income stops coming in. Take advantage of employee-sponsored 401(k) options, or set up an individual retirement account or CD, and then contribute as much as 8% to 12% of your income every month.
Part of planning for a secure financial future involves expecting the unexpected. Have an emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses that pop up and try to alter your long-term financial goals. As long as you keep paying for short-term, unexpected expenses with high-interest loans that take forever to pay off, your financial future becomes increasingly difficult to plan for.
The most important part of making a plan is the follow-through. See your good intentions through to the end, and check back periodically to see how your goals are matching up with your current financial picture. If you notice yourself getting off track—a natural and inevitable part of almost any financial plan—make course adjustments and revisions to ensure that you reach your goals.
Financial security is attainable, but you can’t expect to arrive at your destination by accident. Map out your route with easy-to-measure checkpoints along the way, and before you know it, your future financial security—once frightening and hard to find—will become a reality.
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