Money-Smart Actions to Take During Financial Literacy Month
Did you know that April is Financial Literacy Month? A month devoted to learning about money may sound extreme until you read the stats. According to a recent survey, only 57% of adult Americans understand basic financial concepts.
A lack of financial understanding could be dangerous for your wallet. So here are some actions (based on fundamental financial concepts) that will boost your saving power.
Start an emergency savings account.
Car repairs, medical emergencies, last-minute necessities—we all get hit with surprise costs occasionally. The best way to ensure that you stay prepared is to start an emergency savings account. If possible, keep this separate from your regular savings account, so you don’t have to drain funds for those future costs you can predict.
Keep track of interest rates.
Do you know the current interest rates on your credit cards? They may have changed since you last checked. It’s also possible that you just forgot if you’re like many people. Whatever the reason, it’s time to check. A high-interest card makes the balance you owe considerably more expensive in the long run.
Review your student loan repayment options.
When was the last time you checked your monthly student loan payment? Is it so high that you can’t pay the rest of your bills? If it’s too low, you may pay more in interest over the life of the loan than you need to. You can negotiate your monthly sum with your servicer if you need to adjust your payment.
Open a retirement account.
Saving for retirement is critical (unless you plan on working full-time forever). If your employer offers a 401(k), take advantage of it. Even putting small sums away every month can make a big difference later once you lose full-time income. Likewise, if you don’t have access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan, open an IRA with a financial servicer.
Stick to a budget.
Create a budget that you can maintain every month. New to budgeting? A good rule of thumb is that 50 percent of your income goes to essentials, 20 percent is for building savings and paying off debts, and 30 percent covers extras or unexpected expenses. Calculate how much of your income should be allotted for each section, and stick to it.
Set financial goals.
Setting financial goals will ensure you get what you want in life and help you save money in the long run. Goals should fall into three categories (short, medium, and long-term). For example, a new computer may be a short-term goal, while a new home will take months or even years of consistent savings; this would be a long-term goal. Once you set your goals, create a realistic timeline for achieving them.
If you need help setting goals or want to get your finances back on track, consider speaking with a financial counselor for further assistance.
Appreciate what you’ve got.
Learning to appreciate what you have will keep you from overspending on things you don’t need. Take stock of at least one thing you own for which you are grateful. Doing this every day will help you maintain a healthier financial mindset.