How Do I Get My Finances On Track This Late in the Game?
First off, it is never too late to get back on track with your finances. You’re here now, so don’t discourage yourself with any more excuses; start today! If you’ve spent years living paycheck to paycheck, or you haven’t taken the time to make a financial plan for your future, it can feel overwhelming wondering how or where to start. No matter where you are in life, these tips will help empower you to develop a sound financial plan whether you need to eliminate debt or save for the future.
- Set Goals
The key to any good financial plan is to set clear, achievable goals. Simply saying that you want to save more money or have less debt won’t magically make it so. Follow these three strategies: Determine a specific goal with concrete numbers and dates of accomplishment; Break down your goals into manageable steps and action items; Share your goals with family and friends to keep you accountable for achieving them.
- Create an Opportunity Fund
Based on your personal circumstances and goals, create an opportunity fund by reviewing your budget, income and expenses. I recommend basing your fund on several months’ income, but the important thing is that the amount you choose gives you a motivating vision for your future, like saving for a business venture or a down payment on a house, while also serving the dual purpose of providing you with a reserve of funds to cover any emergencies along the way.
- Pay Off Debt
Once you’ve established an opportunity fund, you can start paying down high interest debts like credit cards or loans. Stop using credit cards, especially store cards, and use any extra money you have to pay down your accounts. Avoid costly late payment fees by making your payments on time, and pay more than the minimum when you can to pay off your debt quicker. The minimum payment recommended ensures that credit card companies continue to collect interest off your balance for as long as possible. Negotiate lower interest rates by calling your credit card companies; you’ll be surprised by how many are willing to work with you.
- Contribute to Retirement
If you’re close to retirement, now is the time to make catch-up contributions to any 401K, 403B or IRA accounts you may have. The IRS allows individuals over age 50 to contribute more to their retirement plans so that you can get caught up before you’re ready to retire.
Remember, it is never too late to create wealthy habits. Maybe you have made excuses in the past about why you haven’t been able to plan for your future up to this point, but I’m telling you now that there will always be things coming up in your life and reasons you give yourself to delay, but if you don’t start making a plan now, you’ll find yourself asking this same question years down the road when you could have already been well on your way toward your goals.