Admit it, whenever you hear the word “finance,” you zone out. But your financial health is as important to your life as your physical, mental and emotional health. If you want to live the good life, you have to know how to manage your finances. Here are five things you should know to stay financially fit:
1. How to Save
There’s no glamour behind saving. Much like daily exercise, it’s a boring, day-to-day commitment. The key is consistency. Real financial fitness occurs over months and years. Start setting aside a designated portion of your income on a daily or weekly basis, gradually building a nice cushion so that big expenses later in life don’t blindside you. Here are some tips on how to save.
2. The Importance of Budgeting
Knowing how to budget is like stretching before you hit the gym: It gets you in shape to hit the serious weights.Start by allocating for necessities like loans, rent, utilities, food and transportation. Then, based on how much remains, figure out what amount to set aside as savings. Whatever’s left after that is your Starbucks mocha latte splurge money. By budgeting this way, you should find it easier to know exactly where all your income is going.
3. 401(k)s: Tax and Savings Benefits
401(k)s and IRAs are contributions that are deducted from your income prior to determining your federal and state income tax liability. As an employee you may have access to a 401(k) with employer matching options for your deductions. If you’re self-employed, you can turn to IRAs. Either vehicle offers you a tax deduction for setting aside savings by lowering your tax liability at the end of the year, thus increasing the amount you have available to save.
4. How to Invest
Generally speaking, 401(k)s and some IRA options allow you to dip your toes into investing in different stocks or different combinations of stocks. Once you’re comfortable with those beginner investing opportunities, you can, and should, seek the advice of a professional investment adviser who can help you move on to a more in-depth understanding of stocks, bonds and mutual funds.
5. The Value of Stocks
Stocks offer you the opportunity to grow your savings at a faster pace, but depending on how the market is, they can be tricky. Most investment advisors offer stock portfolio options that allow you to split your investment and hold a combination of stocks, which offers you diversification and minimizes losses.
Finance as a field of study can be complicated, but the good thing is that personal finance management is much, much simpler. So educate yourself about your personal finances. It’s a must for a prosperous, successful life.