While the pandemic continues, it’s important to develop or maintain strategies to help you manage your finances in the long term. You may be surprised to learn that whether you’re dealing with financial stress or working towards long-term goals, many of the tactics are the same. Here are 3 to help you get started:
1. Reflect on your financial habits and motivators
To maintain momentum in your financial health, it’s important to ask yourself: what are your personal habits and motivators? Instead of simply thinking about your goals, spend some time understanding why you have those goals. Here are a few important questions to ask.
- Are you a saver or a spender? Some people prefer to have large, constantly growing emergency funds, while others like the flexibility to splurge. Each has pros and cons, so make sure you’re keeping an eye on your habits and motivations for spending and saving.
- Why do you save? Having a large savings account may alleviate anxiety for some. You may also be saving for a specific purchase, for a rainy day, or simply out of habit. Think about what you want, why you want them, and what is most important to prioritize!
- Why do you spend? Whether you primarily spend on necessities or for pleasure, it’s important to identify what you spend the most on and when your spending spikes during the month or the year.
- When do you want to retire, and why? Those who aim to retire early may be imagining spending more time with family or getting to pursue interests outside of work and will need to ensure their funds can support those desires.
For example, it can be easy to get off track paying off your debt without a specific motivation. What is your end goal: freeing up money to take your dream vacation? Eliminating a source of stress? Improving your credit so you can get a good rate on your mortgage? Whatever it is, make that your focus instead – you’ll find you’re much more strongly motivated!
2. Identify and prioritize major items
It’s a good rule of thumb to start your list of financial priorities with building emergency savings or investing in a Health Savings Account. There’s no definite answer to what comes next because each person can have a different set of goals or stressors. But here’s a good order to begin with:
- Wipeout debt. Paying off credit cards, mortgages, and other sources of debt help improve your overall financial health and can help you free up some money in the future. Learn more about Debt Management
- Invest for retirement. This can be daunting, as there are many different ways to invest, but it’s worth the time. Talk to our Liberty Bay advisors or check out our FA$Ttrack courses on 401k Plans, Maximizing Retirement Savings, and Individual Retirement Accounts.
- High upcoming costs. Not everyone wants to buy a house, drive a car, or have kids, so the order of urgency for these goals is much more subjective. Balance timing with total costs to figure out what you should prioritize.
Want to learn more? Visit our online learning portal for courses on what matters to you, or talk to your experts at Liberty Bay.
3. Track your progress
Once you’ve identified your habits, motivations, and goals, then created your budget, you should make sure you’re sticking to that budget by tracking your progress. Are you on track? Behind or ahead of schedule? Do you need to adjust your spending or saving?
Not only is tracking your progress important for keeping you accountable, but it’s also exciting to meet milestones! Being able to see yourself heading in the right direction can add to your motivation and give you the push you need if you start to lose momentum.
Liberty Bay has tools such as Card Valet and Bill Pay to help you stay fiscally responsible and take care of some items automatically. Card Valet allows you to set limits for your Liberty Bay Debit Card so that you can keep yourself from overspending on certain categories or with particular vendors. Bill Pay allows you to have peace of mind knowing you’re making payments on time and won’t be charged any fees or penalties.
For more advice about setting or pursuing goals, and staying on track with your financial plan, talk to your team at Liberty Bay. We’ll always be here to help you with a smile!