Financial success can be as simple as cultivating a few good habits. Getting started as soon as possible with these habits can lead to a lifetime of improving finances.
1. Work Hard
People who are looking to succeed financially have to put forth a solid effort over a long period of time. Whether you’re looking to get a job with a major corporation, or you just want to start your own business, you’ll need to work hard to achieve success. Bosses tend to see hard work from talented employees, and this can pay off handsomely in the long run.
2. Set up a Budget
After making the decision to work hard, you’ll want to track your income and your expenses each month. This requires setting up a monthly budget. You’ll want to make sure that your income exceeds your expenses each month so that you can start building wealth. There are budget apps available that can help you keep up with your budget if you’d rather not fill out a spreadsheet each month.
3. Pay Yourself First
If you want to build up savings for emergencies or your future retirement, you’ll need to take that money off the top of your paycheck. If you pay everyone else first and save what’s left, you’ll likely have nothing left over to save. By automatically putting money toward your short-term and long-term goals, you’ll be less likely to wind up with nothing saved when it’s time to take your Social Security benefits.
4. Take Advantage of Discounts
Another great financial habit involves taking advantage of sales and buying in bulk if you can use all of a given product. It might take a little more money in the short term, but over the long haul, you’ll be able to save money. A lower price per unit can lead to some major savings, and these will allow you to use the money you earn more efficiently.
5. Build an Emergency Fund
A shocking number of Americans have no money available to take care of life’s unexpected emergencies. Many people live from one paycheck to the next. Otherwise, if faced with an unexpected medical treatment you might find it necessary to look into short-term solutions like online cash advance loans or borrowing from a loved one. Building an emergency fund over time is a good way to be able to take care of any sudden urgent expenses that pop up. Most financial bloggers recommend having between three and six months of expenses saved up for your emergency fund. It might take time to build up to this level, but it’s a good target to strive toward.
6. Pay Debts Quickly
Interest payments are dollars that you earn that go toward making other people wealthy. Whether you’ve taken out an online loan or you’ve run up debt on a credit card, you’ll want to pay off the debt as soon as you possibly can. Even a relatively small amount of interest each month can really take a bite out of your current income. Once you’re able to pay off your debts, it will suddenly seem like you’ve gotten a big raise.
7. Eat at Home
It’s fun to go out to eat. Much of the food we get from restaurants tastes good. It can also be tempting to pick up something after a hard day at work. However, most of the food that restaurants prepare is not as healthy as the food you can make at home. It’s also cheaper to make your own food. If you’re stressed during the week, you might try cooking up some meals over the weekend so that you have less of a temptation to eat out. Your wallet will thank you if you build up the discipline to eat more meals at home.
8. Cut Coupons
This recommendation is closely tied to the recommendation to take advantage of sales. Many coupons come directly from manufacturers. Others come from retailers. Regardless of the source of a coupon, take advantage of it. Of course, you’ll only want to use coupons on the products you’d buy anyway. Otherwise, this strategy will wind up costing you more money.
9. Ignore Your Investments
This might seem like a bad idea, but it’s actually a good way to build wealth over time. Even Warren Buffett recommends passive index funds as the best option for most investors. If you check the value of your investments each day, you’ll be tempted to sell when the market is down. This is the worst possible time to sell. Your best bet is to set up a target asset allocation, keep funneling money into it, and then make sure to rebalance it periodically so that you don’t get overweight in a given investment.
10. Check Your Bank Account
Your bank account is the source of your monthly operating funds. You’ll want to make sure that you know how much is in your checking account on a regular basis. This will help you avoid overdrawing your account. Overdrafts can lead to some serious penalties that can hinder your ability to make ends meet. Additionally, with the increase in identity theft, it’s a good idea to ensure that you’ve actually made all of the purchases that show up in your account.
It might be hard to achieve all of these financial habits immediately. However, what you continue to do month after month will become ingrained, and you’ll be more likely to succeed financially over the long haul.