Many people who graduated years ago probably wish they could go back and do a few things over like…
LEARN FROM THEIR MISTAKES.
Most financial challenges can be avoided by being mindful of your money actions. Just like how we teach our patients how to live healthier lives we can do the same for our financial future. Adopting healthy finance habits can make your future a lot easier and more enjoyable.
On the other hand, unhealthy financial habits can create challenges that take years of work to fully recover. So, get your adulting started on a positive financial path from the beginning.
Consider incorporating these tips into your financial life as an adult:
1. Read a basic book on personal finance.
Even if you think you know it all starting with a good foundation can’t hurt. Good personal finance habits aren’t complicated, but they’re very important to establish and be consistent with. They’re also most effective when started early. Get a good book on this topic and read all about it. Just remember you don’t have to subscribe to everything that they prescribe, but you do need to stick to a plan.
2. Create a simple budget.
Think income and expense. It can be as simple as a list or a complex, interactive spreadsheet. You choose what works best for you. Know that you may have to do some trial and error here to find what works best for you. But just because you don’t know what system is best, doesn’t mean you can make huge strides in your money goal!! Kevin and I didn’t start using the system we use now until after we paid off our debt.
3. Try your best to avoid debt.
Using debt to fund your current lifestyle, emergencies or “emergencies” is one of the biggest threat to your future goals. Yes you can have it and succeed, but it is so much easier and freeing to live without it.
Poor spending habits can cause challenging situations quickly. Avoid saddling yourself with consumer debt, even on cars, remodels, and vacations. These things can, and should be paid for with cash. Debt can take years to resolve. Do you want to wait years to really get started?
4. Reduce your current debt.
Being consumer debt free is one of the most liberating feeling I have ever felt. I have so much more freedom in EVERY life decision that I could possibly want. Your debt is a barrier to fully enjoying your future. Find a plan that’s right for you to get out of debt. You’ll be glad you did!
5. Create an emergency fund (EF).
This varies greatly on your personal situation. Some people may be okay with a $500 EF and others may need thousands. You have to take into considerations what you need to make your plan a success. Here are some types of EFs people plan for a smaller starter EF while paying off debt (enough to cover somethings big happening out of nowhere), three-six months of surviving expenses (this is the amount you would need in an emergency, without all the extra luxuries), savings accounts for different categories. If you should ever require it, you’ll be prepared and grateful to have it.
6. Begin investing as soon as possible.
The greatest financial leverage young adults have is time. Even small investments can grow into incredible sums given enough time. No matter where you are in your financial journey you should be investing in your 401k up to your companies match. Don’t give up free money. Educate yourself about basics to retirement savings and get started today. Every day, week, month you delay you are hindering your future self.
7. Take full advantage of tax-deferred retirement accounts (depending on your income).
It’s hard to find a better deal than a 401(k) available through your employer with a match. Between the matching, tax deductions and tax-deferred growth, you won’t find a better investing deal around. If you have more to save past your employers match make sure you look into different IRAs, too.
8. Leave your 401(k) alone.
This is sooo important!! Once you put that money in your retirement accounts you should forget about it, think of it as untouchable and let it grow. Many adults come up with a reason to dip into their retirement accounts, thinking they have enough time to make up for it later. This is a huge mistake, time is something you can never get back. You will be stealing from your future self and for what?
9. Secure health and life (if your situation requires it) insurance.
As a nurse you should know that this country has higher medical costs than nearly everywhere else in the world. Because of this, many bankruptcies are initiated due to medical expenses. Illnesses and accidents happen everyday and you cannot predict if/when it will happen to you, so be prepared. Everyone requires health insurance to mitigate this substantial risk. There are options for self-paid plans out there if you do not want to work for a company who provides healthcare. Do not feel like you are tied to a J.O.B. for health insurance.
10. Spend your money on worthwhile experiences.
Saving or paying off debt cannot be the only thing you do. Life is short, so plan ahead, get out there and enjoy it. It’s okay to spend some money on enjoyable experiences without feeling afraid, shame or guilt. You have to have fun along the way to make these changes sustainable. This is a big part of the reason you earn money in the first place, right. And now that you are learning to spend your money more wisely you will soon be able to allocate more money towards the things you love.
It is important to avoid the many downsides of developing poor personal finance habits, but we don’t know what we don’t know.
Mistakes made at this point in your life are recoverable, but the idea of making these necessary changes can still seem extremely challenging.
Good habits ensure good outcomes. Starting to implement these good habits now it the best thing you can do for your financial future. Your financial future can be great, if you’re willing to put a smart plan into action right now. There’s no reason to repeat bad money mistakes.
As soon as you implement these 10 tips and you’ll find yourself that much closer to a happier, healthier financial future. Learning how to avoid mistakes is a huge part of learning how to be successful with your money.