There’s a lot of advice out there for those first starting out with their finances. To recent grads to college students, to those who have their first full-time job, but what about those of us who are past that point but still not quite at the point of buying your own home?
I’m currently in that area and want to share with you my advice on how to survive the financial mystery of still being relatively broke, but not broke enough that you’re living paycheck to paycheck.
Check Your Credit Score
This is important. Out society runs on credit scores. It affects so much from being able to rent an apartment, to buying a car, to being eligible for loans and so on. If you have a shitty credit score, you’re going to struggle to advance in terms of financial gain.
I have three separate places that tell me my credit score: my bank, Mint, and Credit Karma. They’re not always the same, but they are usually within a similar range.
Need help with fixing your credit score? Click here to learn more.
This should be standard. If you don’t know how much money you have and how much you spend, you’re basically screwed. Find the best way for you to budget your income, whether that be through online help such as Mint or YNAB, do it old school in a notebook or excel spreadsheet, or the envelope method.
Related: How to Save Money Without Trying
Track Your Spending, Too
Having a budget just isn’t enough. I have to admit that I’m guilty of not doing this. Having a budget is a great start, but if you don’t track your spending to make sure you’re staying within your budget then the budget’s existence doesn’t matter. It also helps you notice where you can cut back if you’re overspending.
Related: How to Capitalize on Living at Home
If you don’t have some sort of emergency fund/savings then you’re behind. You need to get your shit together. Start saving NOW. Like RIGHT NOW. Take the change out of your wallet, grab that birthday money you were saving, and get it into a savings account pronto!
My emergency fund has saved my ass so many times, especially when it comes to non-usual expenses like new tires, car maintenance things, and it definitely saved my ass when I moved last year. I tried to move out in August and my lease was up in September. I had to pay two different rents at one point, along with first and last months rent for the second “new” apartment. I wouldn’t have been able to do that without the emergency fund.
By now you’re working a full-time job that most likely comes with insurance, a 401(k), and other interesting benefits. Take advantage of that 401(k). Seriously. It’s more common that companies match what you put into the account, mine doesn’t do exactly that, but they do throw some money in at the end of the year. Even if your company doesn’t add anything to the account, putting a small amount like 1-2% is so much better than not doing anything. Those few dollars now can add up over time.
Related: Bad Habits to Avoid in Your 20s
If you thought you were done with investing with your 401(k), then you are very, very wrong.
Investing takes your financial game so much further. Whether it be in something like a Roth IRA, or more simple as an investing app like Acorns or Stash, investing some money is the best thing for it. Savings accounts aren’t as lucrative as they once were and if you have the chance to have your money work for you, why not?
Related: Top 5 Favorite Frugal Apps
It can be annually, biannually, or however often you want, but keep track of things. Check to make sure things are running smoothly. Make sure you’re not overspending or throwing money in a place that really doesn’t need it. See where you can save more, invest more, and keep the money growing.
Do you have any more advice for those looking to get their financial game going? Have any stories about your financial journey?
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