GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOTV) – As women, we often put the needs of others before our own. We may plan menus, field trips or sales presentations, but when it comes to planning for our financial well-being, we can never seem to find the time, or the guidance, we need. Taking the first step is often the hardest part of addressing your financial future.
Step 1: Consider immediate vs. future gratification
Take a good, hard look at where you spend money and identify whether each expenditure is motivated by a short-term desire or a long-term goal. Then, adjust your budget and spending pattern to reflect a vested interest in your financial future. Try to cut down on extra “stuff” that might seem important now, but won’t matter much to you down the road. (Be sure to keep some “fun” money in your budget, however, so you don’t feel deprived).
Step 2: Manage your money — and your debt — wisely
If you are over-spending on your credit cards and finding yourself paying the minimum balance each month, consider scaling back those purchases. It is critical that you have a good handle on both your budget and your credit score.
Step 3: Save for a rainy day
Over the last several years, many Americans began to save more when they realized that job security was not something they could rely on. Others faced the harsh reality of trying to pay their bills with substantially less income (or none at all), due to a layoff or reduced work schedule. Do you have enough money stashed away for a rainy day? Do you have enough money saved to cover six months of expenses in case of an emergency? It won’t take long if you set your mind to it and start saving right away. Start small if you have to, but start now.
Step 4: Consider who would care for loved ones if you couldn’t do it
It is never easy to have difficult conversations about the “what ifs” in life. But the unexpected can — and unfortunately does — happen sometimes. Whether you are married, single, divorced, have children or care for aging parents or a loved one with a disability, bringing up the subject of death, disability — or even divorce — can be painful. It’s important, however, that you think about these life events and how they would impact you or someone you love if they were to occur. Preparing for the unexpected can help you to protect the lifestyle you have worked so hard to achieve.
Step 5: Make a plan and watch it closely
With a to-do list a mile long, many women are struggling to keep it all together. Despite busy schedules, it’s important to talk to your family about your finances and concerns. Consider setting aside an hour once a week — or every other week at the very least — to talk through your current expense issues, financial goals and savings plan. (If you’ve completed Step #1, you’re already on your way!) A weekly or bi-weekly checkpoint can be a good way to keep your financial goals on track.