CONSIDER THIS: September is self-improvement month—which makes it a good a time as any to look at ways to improve your financial wellness.
Here are five tips:
Create a plan. Decide where you want your finances to take you in the future and compare that to your current financial situation. Write down all the steps you’ll need to take to reach your financial goal and assign a time period to achieve each one. Reward yourself periodically as you come closer to your goal.
Automate savings. It’s a lot easier to resist spending money if you never see it hit your checking account. Set up an automatic transfer each paycheck from your checking account to savings. Experts suggest aiming to set away six months’ worth of income for emergencies. It’s also wise to put about 10 percent of your income toward retirement.
Carry cash. Swiping a credit or debit card can make spending money feel a little too easy. Pulling out dollar bills for each purchase forces you to become more aware of how much you’re spending. Take out only a set amount of money each week to help stay within your budget and cut down on impulsive spending.
Improve your credit score. A poor credit score will hold you back financially—even if you’ve cultivated healthy budgeting and spending skills. Pay off lingering debts and be sure to pay off all new expenses in a timely manner to improve your credit score. You may want to consider setting up automated bill pay so you don’t accidentally miss out on payment dates.
Build financial literacy. Consider using podcasts, books, articles, and shows that teach financial concepts. For a more hands-on approach, there are workshops or classes hosted by credit unions or other financial institutions.