Yeah, yeah, I know, it sounds obvious, right? Well, it must not be because according to CNBC, 78% of Americans working full-time are living paycheck to paycheck. Here's the thing: It's easy to KNOW that you should be spending less than you earn, it's a lot harder to actually do it. However, if you want to escape the paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle that so many others live, you need to spend less than you earn. This is one of the most crucial but basic personal finance tips ever. In order to do this, you need to track your spending. You can do this by either writing your purchases down or by using a free personal finance app.
You might hear the word “budget” and cringe a little, but you shouldn't. Budgeting is not hard, and it doesn't mean you have to stop doing things you enjoy. Budgeting is simply creating a plan for your money so you have a better idea of where it's going every month. A popular and effective way to budget is with the 50/30/20 rule. How it works is 50% of your income goes towards the necessities (bills, food, housing, etc.), 20% of your income goes towards savings and the remaining 30% you can use for whatever you please. This is a nice and easy way to break down your paycheck, but you might need to adjust it a bit to fit your lifestyle.
Credit for this one goes to user GeekLimit on Reddit – one of my favorite personal finance tips! This is an odd little trick that can change the perspective you have about your money, and help you budget better. It's all about breaking your income and expenses down into daily values, like this:
This personal finance tip — supposedly coined by George S. Clason, author of The Richest Man In Babylon — is another common one that can have a huge impact on your finances. When you pay yourself first, you're investing in your financial future; you're investing in future you, and future you will thank present you for doing so. So, why not just pay yourself at the end of the month? That's a lot easier, right? Well, the reason why paying yourself first works so well is that once that money is sent to a savings account, you're a lot less likely to spend it. If you wait until the end of the month to pay yourself, you might not have any money left! Future you will be very sad with no money. Make future you happy by investing in yourself! PS. The best way to pay yourself first is to do it automatically. Set up an auto-deposit with WealthSimple and you'll never have to think about saving money again – it will just happen.
If you want to accomplish financial goals, you need to figure out what goals are important to you first. Having a clear goal can keep you motivated and help you come up with a plan to reach that goal even faster. Now, don't think that you need to set outrageous goals. If this is your first time thinking about personal financial goals, start off small and work your way up from there. I'd suggest coming up with a few different goals in each of these categories:
A credit card is a useful tool in your finance toolkit, but it's not free money. When you purchase something with your credit card, you are borrowing money from the bank. If you don't give that money back in time, the bank is going to start charging interest on your balance. This debt can build up and become a monster if you don't pay off your balance every month. However, if you use a credit card responsibly and pay off the balance every month, it's a good way to start building credit. Most credit cards also have other benefits such as rewards points, cash back, or travel points. So, should you have a credit card? Well, it depends. If you're capable of paying off the balance in full every month, then you should have no problem managing a credit card and staying out of debt. PS: If you are going to use a credit card, you should monitor your credit score & credit report regularly with a free tool like Credit Sesame (or Borrowell if you're in Canada). One last tip: Treat your credit card like a debit card. Pay it off in full every day if you have to. I try to pay off my balance every couple of weeks so that I don't forget. I also use Trim to remind me when payment is due. If you want to take it further, use a prepaid reloadable card instead of a credit card. These cards work just like debit cards, but they have the perks of credit cards. For example, read my Koho Review – Koho is a prepaid card with cashback, budgeting, savings goals, and more. Note that prepaid reloadable cards won't help you build credit though.
Debt means you owe someone money, and if I've learned anything from gangster movies, you NEVER want to owe someone money. However, not all debt is necessarily bad debt.
If you lost your job tomorrow would you have enough money to live off while you look for a new one? If not then you're not alone. This study found that although Americans are doing a better job at saving, around 24 percent of them (57 million people) don't have an emergency fund. Now I don't want to be a negative Nancy or a Debbie downer, but emergencies happen all the time. They may not happen to you, but it's always good to be prepared. You can't predict an emergency, but you can prepare for one. The best way to do so is to set up an emergency fund of 3-6 months living expenses. That means if you lost your job tomorrow, you'd be able to live off your emergency fund for 3-6 months while you look for a new one. Here are some common financial emergencies:
Net worth can seem like a tricky topic, but it's quite simple. Your net worth is how much money you are worth. If you were to sell everything you own, then pay off everything you owe, how much money would be left? That's your net worth. Here's what that looks like in equation form: Net worth = Assets (what you own) – Liabilities (what you owe) Ready to calculate your net worth? Here's how: First, create a list of all your assets (what you own) and their estimated value. Here are some examples of assets: