This is Part 2 of two-part blog on Financial Health in honor of Financial Literacy Month.
Ideally, by now you have given your financial goals a little thought (see previous blog post). You may have had some quiet time with yourself; you may have discussed it with your family or you may have gone as far as writing your goals down with a timeframe. Any time you dedicate to thinking and talking about this will pay off.
Sorting out where you want to be – or DON’T want to be — is the first step of this journey.
So here are the next steps you’ll need to take to get to your destination.
Step 1: Imagine it.
Step 2: Earn it.
Generating sufficient income to allow you to become financially stable is a key part of the equation. You can either secure a job or create your own by becoming a small business owner. Below are some key resources that will help you determine which career direction is best for you.
CareerSource Broward – A one-stop for all your employment needs. Professional and unemployed? There’s a special program just for you.
SCORE – National non-profit organization run by existing or former business owners. They help you determine if starting a small business is right for you and how to go about doing it. If you prefer your classes in Spanish, check us out. For the local Broward County chapter, click here.
VITA – Save money on tax preparation fees. If you made under $54,000 this year, this may be the right place for you to get your taxes prepared by IRS-Certified volunteers.
Step 2: Keep It.
I love this quote from Wayne Huizenga,
“It’s not what you make, it’s what you keep.”
The quote is about Florida not having personal income tax, but it is also applied to our personal financial wellbeing. If you spend less than you earn, you save more. You keep more.
Think about it. If you DON’T buy something you do NOT need, you save money. IF you don’t pay finance charges on an unpaid credit card, you SAVE money. If YOU reduce your expenses, you SAVE money. So, KEEPING more of you money by being smarter in how you spend it allows you to keep more of it!
This is where we think the greatest opportunity lies for most of us.
In learning how to manage the money we already have.
How to manage our cash flow – when money comes in and when money goes out.
And creating a safety net – to ensure you have BOTH a short-term emergency cushion as well as, savings for your longer term goals such as purchasing a car, a home, retirement or your child’s education.
Here are some Money Management Tips to get you started: (Below are links to resources to help you go through these steps):
- Create a detailed budget:
- Keep track of every penny you spend
- Stick to your budget and review it on a weekly basis
- Create a savings account for emergencies:
- Deposit in a savings account at least $25 a month – every penny DOES count!
- Pay yourself first – ask your employers to deposit a percentage of your paycheck in a savings account every time you get paid
- Pay off high-cost debt (this refers mainly to CREDIT CARDS
- Be smart with your tax refund
- Pay down your debt (Pay off those money-draining credit cards!)
- Save at least half of your tax refund (in short term or long-term savings)
Here’s a great website that will help you immensely in doing all of the above.
Step 4: Grow It.
Americans cannot be financially mobile without being financially secure.
This step is an outgrowth of Steps 1-3.
What are your long-term goals? The ONLY way to become financially secure – and eventually obtain financial mobility is to GROW your money.
You do that through something called assets. The most traditional ways to this are to purchase a car, a home, invest in retirement or in school/education.
Below are some idea starters of what assets you can invest in and links to valuable resources:
Savings: Where to find the best savings rates to grow your monthly savings account such as Money Market accounts or Certificates of Deposit.
You can compare rates by using this site the BankRate website.
Are you ready to retire? Take advantage of the tax season and open a ROTH IRA. It has never been so easy with a minimum of $2.00 and ZERO fees to open a retirement account. Go to www.MyRA.gov and open a ROTH IRA and take advantages of the tax benefit it provides.
Buying a house may be one of the biggest financial transactions of your life. It is extremely important to be informed about the whole process. Important steps to follow:
- Attend a first time homebuyer’s seminar (we offer them at HUF);
- Do your homework and find out what cities are offering First-time Homebuyers’ financial assistance;
- Key Question you need to answer: How much can money I afford? Obtain a prequalification from a financial institution that way you know and they will answer the second important question: How much house can you afford to buy?
Creating a financial plan – like all things that are worth it – takes time and effort. The good news is that you can obtain many of your goals if you are clear on where you want to go and are disciplined in following your own plan.
Good luck on your journey!
P.S. If you find you need a little more support to get through this process, HUF may be able to assist you. Our Center for Working Families program – may be of help to you. We have a team of terrific professions who can guide you ever step of the way.
Give us a call and we’ll walk you through the requirements and determine if you are eligible and if this program is the right fit for you. You can all us at 954-964-8884, ext. 216.