One of the most important life skills to learn and hopefully master is money management. Whether you are just starting out in life or if you have been managing your money for a while, some fast and easy money tips will help you become proficient and successful in this skill, making your life easier to navigate.
While there might be a lack of money management courses in high school and college, there are a few ways you can learn how to better prepare yourself for your future. One of the most important factors to consider is practicing how to stick to a budget. As a young adult, it can be easy to be swept up in credit cards, new jobs, moving, and newly added responsibilities. If you create a budget by defining what is necessary to pay every month, you can easily see how much money you are bringing home and how much you are spending per month. Learning how to have self-control is an important aspect of budgeting, especially if you have a credit card.
Something that isn’t often discussed at this stage but should be is the financial safety of your loved ones. While you’re young, you might not have considered how your dependents will be financially taken care of in the event of your death or what your loved ones would do if something unexpected were to happen to you. At this stage of life, it’s unlikely that you have a large savings account built up for future circumstances and plans. Although this is common, you may have outstanding debt from college, credit card bills, and rent or a mortgage to be responsible for. Should something happen to you, family or loved ones will likely have to assume this financial burden. That is why securing a life insurance policy at a young age can provide you with peace of mind, lock in lower rates when you are young and healthy and allow your finances to be covered no matter the situation.
Life insurance is a benefit payout in the case of your passing that will provide your beneficiaries with a lump sum of money. This can be used for funeral expenses, mortgage payments, and other outstanding financial obligations. At this stage in your life, take some time to review the best life insurance policies for your unique situation and determine how you can fit this into your overall financial plan You might think that the term “life insurance” is associated with older adults, but it’s important to know that you can lock in better rates while you’re younger and healthier. By dedicating some time to reviewing potential options now, you can set yourself up for financial protection while maintaining peace of mind.
Once you’ve reached this stage of life, you’ve most likely figured out your own system for budgeting, saving, and managing your money efficiently without any major hiccups. While this is a solid place to start, it’s critical that you stay vigilant and on top of your financial situation and hone in on your future plans.
One cause for concern at this stage of life is the potential of overspending. While you might be comfortable with your monthly expenses, it can be easy to overspend on luxury items like a new house or expensive car because you have the money now. While luxuries might be nice, there are things you can do to the existing assets that will keep you from spending more money than you should probably be saving or investing in your later years. For example, there are several home improvement upgrades that you can do on a budget to make your home seem new. Instead of spending a fortune on replacing kitchen cabinets, for instance, consider repainting them for a new and polished look. Or, a fresh coat of paint and new decor can turn any outdated room into a brand new space. These small improvements may not be as extravagant as purchasing a new house, but they are mindful of your budget and can help you in the long run.
This stage of life is also the prime time to grow your emergency or savings fund. There can be many unexpected changes at this point of your life, including divorce, career change, or medical expenses, and having a financial security net would be crucial to your continued wealth and success. It is advised to have three to six months of expenses saved in case of emergencies, so if you haven’t started saving, now is the time to start. If you already have an emergency fund in progress, consider if this is enough to cover what life may throw at you, or readjust your budget to allow for more of a cushion. Remember, emergencies can happen at any time, and you want to make sure that paying for the emergency will not put you in a tight financial position going forward.
As you reach late adulthood, you may think that you can ease up on the more strict financial lifestyle and start to relax on your strategy. However, this is when your financial priorities may change, and it’s important to recognize that you still need to be conscious of what financial obligations you will have going forward.
For example, in late adulthood, you might be seriously contemplating retirement. While this can be an exciting time for you, you also need to be diligent in your planning and be honest with your financial health. Before you decide to retire, invest as much as you can comfortably into your retirement fund, and max out if possible. This is also a great time to determine a few other factors that could impact your finances, such as:
- Will you be downsizing your home now or in the future?
- What hobbies or activities during retirement will cost you money?
- What can you do during retirement that will save you money?
- Do you want to / can you remain fully retired?
Taking these considerations into account will help you decide if you are financially ready to retire now, or if it would be practical to wait an additional year or two. Additionally, think about if you will be taking any vacations or any other trips that may cost a larger sum of money and how that will impact your current day-to-day spending.
If you are a parent of a young child or adolescent, this is the perfect time to instill some important life skills. Preparing your child for life skills and events is an important building block for future success. Of course, skills like swimming and kindness are essentials that every child should learn, but so are money management skills. For young children, let them be curious and start by teaching them about physical currency (including how to give change back), then discuss how banks are involved. For older children, you can discuss the importance of saving, comparison shopping, and how allowances are similar to job paychecks in the sense that you earn money for the job that you do. Also, don’t be afraid to start the conversation about how credit cards, debt, loans, and financing works as your children get older. By having these discussions at the appropriate stages of growth, you can set them up for success at an early age, while preventing major financial pitfalls or miseducation surrounding finances in their future.
Every stage of life comes with new responsibilities and new considerations, yet money management is important no matter where you are in life. Making these fast and easy money moves will allow you to enjoy your life in the present while setting yourself up for a financially secure future that allows you to live the way you intend in retirement. Planning ahead does require some intentionality and work, however, you will be glad you took these vital steps at each stage of your life which will allow you to fully enjoy your hard work.