Most of us keep track of our finances. At the very least, we have some sense of how much money we have in our bank account. But to reach your financial goals, it takes going beyond your bank balance and focusing on what you might call your “personal economy.”
Keep reading for tools to help you develop your personal economy, starting with your budget.
No matter who you talk to, your parents, your friends or a financial professional, you’ll learn that the process of making a budget to reach your financial goals generally breaks down to a few key components:
Do you know how much income you’re bringing in? If it varies from month to month, look at an average, or estimate low and if your monthly income happens to be higher, put extra in your emergency fund so you can cover months when your income may be lower than expected.
Know what you are spending
Logging all your purchases for at least one month will help you find where your money is going.
Cut down on your debt
High interest credit card debt can put a strain on your budget and your ability to save. One of the highest returns you can make on your money is to pay off high interest debt.
Start an emergency fund
In order to avoid adding future debt, it is important to have an emergency fund to pay for unexpected expenses, income variations or a medical emergency.
Utilize automatic features
To help you get in the habit of setting aside money to meet your financial goals, you may want to determine if your savings and investment accounts allow you to set up automatic contributions. Automatic transfers to these accounts may help you achieve your financial goals without being tempted to use the money for other expenses.
Creating a budget gives you a good foundation as you work toward your financial goals. But it’s only the first step. Next, you should begin making a plan that prioritizes your financial goals. When you examine your own goals, you’ll discover that some are broad and far-reaching, while others are narrow in scope.
Your goals can be separated into three categories based on how long they will take to achieve:
Short-term financial goals can be reached in under a year.
Examples may include taking a vacation, buying a new refrigerator or paying off a specific debt.
Mid-term financial goals can’t be achieved right away but shouldn’t take too many years to accomplish.
Examples may include purchasing a car or paying off your debts.
Long-term financial goals may take several years (more than five) to accomplish and, as a result, require longer commitments and often more money.
Examples may include buying a home, saving for a child’s college education, or a comfortable retirement.
The goal-setting process involves deciding what goals you intend to reach; estimating the amount of money needed and other resources required; and planning how long you expect to take to reach each of your goals. Factor this information into your budget and adjust regularly to make sure you stay on track to achieving your goals.
USA Swimming and OneAmerica have come together to offer you access to a financial professional, at no cost to you. A financial professional can help you create a personal economy including assistance creating a budget that takes into consideration your lifestyle and may help you achieve your short-, mid-, and long-term financial goals.
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