We track our steps, try to eat healthy, and half-heartedly try to get enough sleep. Why? To make sure we have healthy futures ahead of us.
But what about planning for your financial future? If the thought of sitting down for some serious monetary self-care makes you want to run in the opposite direction, take a deep breath— planning your financial future doesn’t have to be scary.
In fact, planning for a healthy financial future can help keep you on track when it comes to money, whether you want to grow your wealth as much as possible in preparation for early retirement or just make sure that you’re on track to take a vacation every year.
Tracking Your Spending
One easy way to get a grip on your financial future is to look at how you’re using money in the present.
That’s right—the money decisions you’re making today could have an impact on your financial future, whether you’re choosing to throw an extra $50 a month into your retirement account or spending $50 a month on ride-shares because you’re running too late to take the bus.
But keeping track of what you’re spending can go beyond checking your bank account to make sure you have enough money to cover your rent and utilities every month. Seeing what you’re actually spending—and where—can give you a good look at your financial priorities and see potential areas where you could cut back.
Some financial providers even let you see your recent transactions online or in a banking app, which gives you no excuse when it comes to spending some quality time tracking your spending.
Setting Financial Goals
Speaking of savings goals, setting financial goals can be a great way to maintain financial wellness. According to Forbes, setting goals works. People with specific, defined goals show higher achievement than people with no goals or vague goals.
When deciding what financial goals to set, it can be helpful to think both short- and long-term.
Short-term financial goals can be anything from increasing your income, saving for that Bali vacation, or paying down small loans. Long-term financial goals include things like saving for retirement, starting a college fund for your little one, or saving a down payment for a house.
Making—and Sticking to—a Budget
Think that keeping your bank balance in the black is all you need to do for a healthy financial future? Unfortunately, it’s not quite that easy. Implementing a budget can help keep your financial future on track, whether you’re budgeting for weekly dinners out or budgeting to pay off student debt.
If the word “budget” makes you want to run screaming in the other direction, don’t worry—making a budget doesn’t have to be scary. In fact, if you’ve already started tracking your spending and have spent some time figuring out your financial goals, you’re already halfway there.
Once you know what you’re spending and what you want to be spending, creating a budget can prioritize those goals. For example, if you want to spend a little less on wild Friday nights at the bar and throw a little more cash at your student loans each month, you might choose to budget a slightly decreased entertainment budget and use the newly available cash to increase that loan payment.
And don’t think you need a complicated spreadsheet to start budgeting. Technology makes staying on track with your money goals easier than ever. SoFi Relay can help you set budgeting goals and stick with them. And with SoFi Money, you can use your in-app dashboard to keep track of your budget—no math required.
Planning for the Future
You may have heard that many Americans can’t afford to cover a $500 emergency without relying on a credit card, but why wait until a crisis hits to prepare? Once you consider tracking your spending and working on a budget, you may also want to consider how your financial needs will change over time.
This starts with asking yourself some honest questions: What would happen if you lost your job tomorrow? What would your retirement look like if you keep saving in the same way you are right now?
What big expenses will you face during different seasons of your life? Working future expenses into your budget now can ensure that you’re ready for the future when it comes—whether you’re saving to take time off to start that business you’ve always dreamed of or planning an early retirement.
One smart way to get ready for the future can be to establish a strong emergency fund.
An easy-to-access emergency fund that will cover sixth months’ worth of expenses can go a long way to protecting yourself from the unexpected, whether that’s a surprise illness or a sudden job loss.
While there is always a risk of losing money when you invest, it can also provide returns that grow your money over time—which means that, typically, the earlier you start investing and the longer you leave your money in the market the better.
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Original source: Sofi Learn