Updated: Jun 25, 2020
Published on June 23, 2020 by Autumn Rise Foundation, Inc. in ARF Blogs
As long as you accrue more money owed at a faster rate than you are able to pay it off, your net worth will always be in the negatives and that’s not a good look sis. Do better. Your credit will thank you!
Too many Americans are living on the edge where one unexpected event like the loss of a job, a spouse, the breakdown of a car, or perhaps a global pandemic could leave families in financial binds or worse, homeless. I know you’ve heard it all before, but preparation for times like this is the reason why it is so important to set yourself up for stability in the best way possible in the event that life takes an unfortunate turn. So how exactly does a lady secure the bag? There are a number of things to consider, but I believe the average millennial should consider the following as priorities: tracking your spending, your debt, and credit, saving for emergencies and saving for retirement. If you’d like some tips and advice on how to manage your money a bit better, read on.
Lifestyle is definitely something to consider when creating a financial plan; there is not one cookie-cutter answer for everyone and consulting with an expert to develop short-term and long-term plans for your financial future is a great benefit. In my opinion, the first thing to be done is to track your spending and combine/eliminate costs. If you pay for Netflix, Hulu, and HBO consider which one (or two) you could live without and let it go! Alternatively, you can see if streaming services are available with other services you already pay for; i.e. Hulu and Showtime are an option with a Spotify premium plan. If you often eat out, see if you can bring it down to once per week and reallocate that leftover money into savings. If you are known to have guilty pleasures, set a budget for it, and buy a gift card; I buy one $50 Starbucks gift card every other month and it’s so easy to keep track of spending this way.
The second priority on the list is securing an emergency fund. Saving money can be difficult, but a good rule of thumb is to save 20% of your paycheck each month and secure 2-3 months’ worth of necessary expenses in the case of an emergency because life happens! If you’re stretched too thin to save 20% maybe 15% is more feasible for you, but you should still strive for that 20% and really critique yourself on how thorough you were when assessing your spending habits.
After you have assessed your spending and set enough money aside to cushion yourself if life hits the fan, you have to make eliminating your debt your top priority! This will mean restricting your spending, even more, to accommodate paying more money towards paying your debts. There are levels to debt: student debt, car loans, credit card debt, medical bills, back taxes, etc. and in all cases of debt, compound interest is lethal towards your financial health. It may take some sacrifices; you’ll miss some outings with your girls or you can’t go on vacation for your birthday or the holidays, but financial freedom makes the sacrifices worth it! As long as you accrue more money owed at a faster rate than you are able to pay it off, your net worth will always be in the negatives and that’s not a good look sis. Do better. Your credit will thank you!
If you are attempting to do all of these things, but still find yourself tight on cash, it’s time to consider another stream of income. Use your talents to earn some cash. There are a number of ways to do this. You can pick up another job part-time with a company or you can pick up a side hustle. This could include anything from coaching to tutoring to launching an Etsy or Shopify store, to consulting, event planning, photography, selling e-books and calendars, doing hair/makeup, you name it! Assess how much time and upfront costs you are willing to spend to support a side hustle and go ahead and get that second stream of income to help you meet your financial goals.
Once you’ve solidified your spending habits, have a healthy emergency fund, have a handle on paying off your debts (or better, eliminate your debts), you can focus on saving for retirement or investing to help prepare you for retirement. The easiest way to invest is to invest in an employer match 401k or 403b plan. If you intend to work with a company or institution over the course of 3+ years, an employer match plan is FREE money in an economy which “free” very rarely means “free”. Take advantage of it if it’s offered. Alternative forms of investing include opening a brokerage account and investing in the stock market which is a BOSS move and if you’re a real badass you should consider investing in real estate.
All this information is worth looking into if you are serious about managing your money and protecting your future. The bag won’t secure itself...that is unless you participate in passive income methods ;).
Written by: Michelle Koduah, CMO
Autumn Rise Foundation, Inc.