Personal financial security almost always is built upon a foundation of creating and sticking to a budget. And a budget line dedicated to savings is extra insurance that you are on solid ground, no matter how much you make.
Tracking your spending is a necessary preliminary to creating that budget. Start by recording every penny you spend. And be prepared to be surprised at how much of your money is going into such things as movies, potato chips and other non-essentials.
Sticking To Your True Needs Leaves More For Savings
Once you have a true picture of how you are spending what you earn, the next step is to set a realistic budget that covers all your needs. That is needs, not wants. Needs vary from family to family, but for almost everyone, they include housing, food, water, shelter, clothing and education. The list of “wants” is long and variable, but often includes fast foods, meals out, expensive clothing, over-expensive cars, fancy cell phones and electronic gadgetry.
Engage Your Family In Setting The Budget
Let them help make up the shopping lists and then go through them to see what you can realistically do without. An occasional “fling” can be accommodated, but be sure they stay occasional and don’t become embedded in the budget by default.
Start A Savings Plan
Through your employment you may have access to a 401(k) account. Or set up an IRA (Individual Retirement Account), which is another way to enjoy tax benefits while you save. Keep retirement in mind. It comes sooner than you’d think. Save as much as you can and increase the amount as children grow up and leave home or as your earnings increase.
Consider What Is Practical In The Way Of Education
Too many Americans face retirement with student loans still weighing them down. It may be that you can achieve career goals without a four-year university degree. If you have to borrow to pay for higher education, keep these figures in mind: The typical monthly payment for loans escalates with the type of training you desire, from $54 for vocational school; $60 for an associate degree; $184 for a bachelor’s degree; $220 for a master’s degree; $280 for a college professor; $530 for a professional degree; and $840 for a physician.
Certainly don’t settle for less than you desire, but approach higher education with your eyes open. Start planning early, warn children they may have to work while they go to school, do your best to encourage them to perform well in high school as a springboard to scholarships and other support.