By Leslie Valdivia
2015 has been a year of change and transition for me. It was my first full year as a college graduate and getting used at a nice to five routine, I was laid-off for the first time ever, and I started a completely new job outside my area of study.
With all this changes, came feelings of fear of the unknown of being jobless, which means no money, excitement for a new job and some hard personal realizations. With my new job in working as financial literacy program assistant, it made me open my eyes to a very important part of my life, that I’ve haven’t put much effort into until now, which is my finances.
Being a young adult, we sometimes put our finances on the back burner of importance. We may feel we have our whole lives to pay off our student loans, or we don’t care about our high credit card interest rate, but we should care. Why should we care? Well, do you want to travel or go on a great vacation one day? Do you eventually want to buy a home? Do you have a plan if you lose your job?
The earlier you prepare and take control of your finances, the sooner you can enjoy the better and more fun things in life without the burden of thinking ‘How am I going to pay for that?’. Making financial resolutions should be a priority for you, and will be for me, in 2016. With these resolutions, you will be on your way to a better and more financially sound life! I’ve also have included some articles to help you get started! J
- Make a budget- VERY IMPORTANT and FIRST STEP TO A FINANCIALLY HAPPY LIFE
Do you really know how much you spend a week? A month? Where does all you money go? Tracking you expenses and really calculating your bills is a VERY important step to getting your financial life in order. If you only use your debit card, it’s very easy to pull your spending report from online, if you use cash or a mix of both, collect all the receipts for a week and calculate your expenses. Try collecting all your receipts for a month so you can really get a clear picture of where your money goes. From there, figuring out how much your need for necessities and bills will be easier, and see what you can use for other goals in mind. If you need help getting started, feel free to reach out to me and we can out a budget together. There are also many phone apps to download and article online to help you. J http://cnnmon.ie/1Lxcs2m
- Create an emergency fund
This is a very important goal we should all do, but many people don’t. Sometimes, we don’t think about having an emergency fund until it’s too late. Emergency funds should a not be thought of something just for yourself or if you lose your job- what about if your car needs a new engine? What about if a family members gets sick and money is needed for the hospital? Although unfortunate, these things can happen to anyone- its life, but with your emergency fund on hand, you can worry about other things like your family instead of stressing over money during a difficult time.
- Reduce your debt
Figuring out your budget is important so you can use your money on other important things- like paying off your car, school loan or whatever debt is that you have. Paying debt with minimum payments is a bad idea because it not only will it take you often times YEARS to pay it off, plus interest rate accumulates to leaving you more in debt than before. Focus on paying your debt with the highest interest rate and work from there.http://cnnmon.ie/1TqnxnX
- Increase your savings
Saving can be a difficult thing, especially when you feel like you barely have enough to pay the bills. Again this is why having a budget and a clear picture of how you spend your money can really help you see where you can cut back and save instead. Savings and an emergency fund show be thought of as separate accounts. Think of your savings as a happy account- used for Christmas gifts and vacations and emergency fund as just that, not for pleasure purposes or when you need extra cash. If you are horrible at saving, just like me, start small. $5 dollars a week then $50 a month until you reach your desired and doable amount. To help you get started, EARN is a nonprofit program helping people and families begin to save, and at the end of 6 months of saving, you receive $55 for your commitment! https://www.earn.org/