So you have decided to finally right your financial ship and take the helm. There may be some wreckage in the water from your past money choices. It will take a steady hand and a lot of patience to navigate these currents. All nautical references aside, starting late on the path to financial freedom can be a fairly daunting task. It is going to take some determination, sacrifice and dedication. First things first however, where to even start?
To begin to make up time lost, you will need to act fast and decisively. To make the biggest impact in the shortest amount of time, some dramatic money and lifestyle changes need to take place. With the right mindset, these changes don’t have to be all that difficult. Here are 3 simple steps to get you started on your path to financial well-being.
There are a few key areas that make up the foundation to financial freedom. These 3 steps help to get a foothold in a few of those areas. These are just simple, actionable steps you can take TODAY to get the ball rolling. So without further ado, lets dive right in!
- Create a Budget- Laying out all your expenses and creating a budget should be step number one… or for you Dave Ramsey fans out there, baby step 0. This step is critical in facing where your money is currently going and where you can improve. I have to be honest, this sometimes is not the most pleasant task. It will force you to take a serious and honest look at your financial situation and that can be scary. It is however a task that NEEDS to be done in order for you to identify where your money is going. There are plenty of budgeting apps and spreadsheets on the web, if you are so inclined, free of charge!
- Automate Savings- The easiest, most painless way to save is to automate it. Automating money to be deducted from each paycheck or transferred from your checking account on a specific date of the month is super easy. This can be done in minutes via your bank’s website. (BONUS: You can really cash in if you open a savings account with a higher interest rate to gain some additional cash for your stash. Some banks that offer higher interest rates on savings accounts are Ally Bank and Goldman Sachs at the time of writing). Automating allows you to keep money in savings instead of spending it when the off-season BBQ goes on sale or you want to indulge on a second plate of wings during the game. Those funds just wont be there and you will not even have to think about it. Savings rate is absolutely a pillar of financial independence.
- Clean Up your Finances- Bring out that budget from step one and take a look at it. Are you still paying for that gym membership you never use? Are you still getting charged for that shave club you signed up for even though you have enough blades to shave clean every cat in the neighborhood? Are you paying for HBO even though you only added the channel to watch “Game of Thrones”? Why are you still paying for these monthly services when you do not get any enjoyment out of them? These small charges can add up to some serious money over a year. Evaluate your monthly statement and see where you can cut some vampire monthly charges. This can also be applied to services you decide you can live without. Maybe you don’t need Netflix, Sling TV, Prime and Hulu. Or maybe you decide you don’t need a yard service and can take care of it yourself. The point of this step is to trim your frivilous expenses and move those funds to savings or toward paying off debt.
There you have it. Now all that is left to do is sit down and take action! There is a lot more that can and will need to be done to strenghen your financial position, but moving in the right direction is a win. These simple steps can get you sailing into calmer financial seas in no time. Good luck and safe travels!