While we can easily get wrapped up in the day to day life and forget (or put off) improving our finances, now is the time to take action. Sure, a lot goes into personal finances such as budgeting, spending, and saving, but there are actions you can take to set yourself up for success not only in the short-term, but down the road. It may in fact be decades away until retirement, but that doesn’t mean you should put off trying to secure your financial future.
Check Your Credit Report
These days you just never know when fraud can occur. You could be unlucky enough to have your card information taken at the gas pump or even when leaving too long when paying a restaurant or bar tab. Even retailers are not immune from potential hacks. It’s a good idea to review your full credit report at least once a year to ensure every report is up to date and accurate, and then you can see your credit score on monthly credit card statements that you can monitor going forward to make sure it’s trending up instead of down.
Build Up an Emergency Fund
Much like not being able to predict fraud, you also can never know when a huge financial hit can occur so it’s always good to be prepared as possible. By giving yourself a few months’ worth of expenses as reserves in an account that is easily accessible, you are able to use on a medical, vet, or auto repair bill that may come up instead of having to put on a credit card and risk going into debt. It may take even a couple years to build up a sizeable account, but by contributing towards your emergency fund every month now, you can be better prepared later on.
With excess money likely being tight now that significant savings is occurring between an emergency fund, not to mention hopefully putting a large chunk towards retirement every month, it’s important to free up as much extra money as you can, and it starts with how much is leaving your account every month. By taking a look at last month’s debit or credit card statement you can see every dollar that you’re spending, between monthly bills, food, gas, and even how much could have been saved from avoiding going out to eat, or even cutting the cable cord or gym membership that you don’t use as much as you should.
Don’t Miss Out on Free Money
Since likely every dollar is now being accounted for, you don’t want to miss out on any potential free money. By using a rewards credit card, you can earn points or cashback on the purchases you were going to make anyways, earning hundreds of dollars a month, depending how much you spend. On a larger scale, your employer might match retirement contributions to a certain point, so at least contribute the maximum, as that could be thousands a year you could be losing out on, not to mention tens of thousands it could have added up to by the time you are of retirement age.