RBC I Many people take their health very seriously. They eat right, exercise and get plenty of rest. But in today’s economy, it is also important to be financially healthy. Just like taking care of your body, there are things you can do to take care of your finances. And just like staying physically healthy, staying financially fit isn’t always easy. However, with pain comes gain…in your bank account. Here are a few ways to tone those financial muscles.
The first concept sounds simple, but sometimes is easier said than done. Don’t spend more than you earn. There are things in your day-to-day life you can plan for and there are things that are unforeseen. You can budget for groceries and the cost can be controlled. But you can’t budget for a new transmission when your car decides it needs one. The point is, control what you can, and in time, you may have extra money to take care of those unforeseen expenses.
The best way to control your expenses is to create a budget. Budgeting does not take a mathematical genius. Can you add and subtract? If so, you can budget. No one knows your life better than you. You know what bills you have; you know how much money is coming in. It is just a matter of sitting down and doing your homework. Once you have the basic framework of the budget (what is going out, what is coming in and what is left over), set goals for yourself. Some sacrifices will probably have to be made, but that is what it takes to be financially healthy.
Too much junk food can jeopardize your physical health and too much plastic can jeopardize your financial health. Credit card debt is the number one obstacle to being financially fit. Using your credit card can be just as tempting as a big plate of cheese fries. It’s easy-just to take it out, swipe it through the credit card reader and pretend it’s not real money. Most of us intend on paying the debt back soon, but something usually gets in the way.
With credit card debt, you keep paying for the item as the amount spent keeps accumulating interest. It’s a dangerous trap that should be avoided. If you do use your credit card, PAY MORE THAN THE MINIMUM. The longer the debt goes unpaid, the more money you spend and the more the credit card company earns.
Just like shopping for a bargain at the store, make sure you’re getting the best deal on things like your home and car insurance. This is a matter of finding the best plan for you and then sitting down with your insurance agent. Insurance can be complicated and you don’t need to be an expert, but you do need to utilize an expert. Get every question answered, grill them on every money-saving option, and make sure they know all the things about you and your family that may qualify you for a discount. If an insurance agent wants your business, they will take the time to educate you.
Invest in your future. If your employer has a 401(k) plan, utilize it. If you are already contributing, try to increase the amount you contribute. Along the same lines, build a savings account. Take a percentage of the money you have coming in and think of it as another bill. Just like you have to pay your water bill every month, you also have to pay your savings account.
In the end, it’s up to you. You have control of your money and how it’s spent. The best things to arm yourself with are knowledge and organization. Make a plan and stick to it. Just like staying physically healthy, the hard work you do now will ensure you stay financially healthy in the future.