posted on February 19, 2012 09:18
1. Keep a budget
Budgeting is simply a plan for how you intend to spend and save your money. Knowing how much money you earn and spend each month puts you in a better position to save and plan for the future. Learn more about budgeting.
2. Live below your means, but within your needs
Before spending any money, you should ask yourself the question, “Can I afford it?” But even if you can afford it, you should also ask, “Do I need it?” Spend on what you need, rather than what you want and try to get the best deal for your money. Learn more about living within your means
3. Pay yourself first
Have the money you plan to save automatically deducted from your monthly paycheck before you pay any other bills. One of the best ways to guarantee that you save is to have money deducted automatically from your salary and sent to an account that is not easily accessible. Learn more about saving.
4. Save or invest a minimum of 10 to 15 percent of your take home income
You can vary this according to your age and saving goals. If you are a 25 year-old college graduate, you may want to save 10 percent and use the rest to travel and explore life for a couple of years. If you are a 35-year-old family man with children and you want to build your own home before you reach age 42, you can save the full 20 percent for the next five years and have a down payment of at least $36,000 to start building at age 40. Learn more about saving.
5. Have a rainy day or emergency fund
Life can be unpredictable so you should always be prepared for emergencies. Having a “rainy day” or emergency fund is very important. Your emergency fund should be your first saving goal. It is a sum of money that remains untouched in an easily accessible savings account except in cases of emergencies. Financial experts recommend that you have enough money in your emergency fund to cover at least eight months of living expenses. Learn more about saving.
6. Take the investment plunge
Investing means putting your money to work for you. True investing means doing a serious analysis of the pros and cons of a particular investment and determining if you can reasonably expect to make a profit. By investing your money you run a risk, but you also have a higher potential of earning a profit than in regular savings. Generally, the higher the risk, the higher the expected rate of return. Investing wisely is one of the keys to building wealth. Learn more about investing.
7. Pay your debts
Look closely at your budget and compare your income and expenses. Put yourself on a strict spending diet and cut out all unnecessary items. Take the money you’ve saved and put it toward paying down your outstanding debt. The longer you take to pay off your debts, the more you will end up paying in the long run as interest accumulates rapidly on loans. If you can afford to pay more than the minimum required, you should do so. If you make an extra mortgage payment every year for the first couple of years, you can make a significant reduction in the number of years that you end up paying off your loan. Learn more about managing your debt.
8. Plan for Retirement
It's never too early to start planning for your retirement. The earlier you start, the larger your nest egg will be when you are ready to retire. If you have a target age of when you would like to retire, you need to take into consideration the rate of inflation and cost of living increases to estimate how much money you’ll need to live comfortably during your retirement. Financial advisers recommend that you have at least three sources of retirement income – your pension, savings and investments, and Social Security. Start your financial planning today to make sure you can retire with confidence! Learn more about retirement planning.
9. Get insured
Insurance can help you to meet costs after unexpected events such as a medical emergency or a natural disaster. In some ways, insurance is like carrying an umbrella when it’s sunny; you might not need it, but if it rains you’ll be glad you have it. When you buy insurance, you secure yourself, your assets or the things you own against a possible unwanted outcome. Learn more about insurance.
10. Make an Estate Plan
Make an Estate Plan - It’s important to make plans to deal with life’s unexpected events. If you become unable to make your own decisions, an estate plan will instruct others about what you want done. An estate plan includes documents that govern how you’ll be cared for, medically and financially. It includes your will as well as any other directions on how you want your assets handled or distributed if you become incapacitated or if you die. Learn more about estate planning.
11. Avoid Fraud
It may be a cliché, but don’t discount the old saying, “if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.” When it comes to money matters, this should be your rule of thumb. Con-artists are everywhere and they wear many different outfits. The general idea is to lure you into a “get rich quick” scheme, while they get rich from taking your money. When it comes to your money, it’s better to be paranoid, than to be naïve and become the victim of a scam. Learn more about avoiding fraud.
Whether you call it Giving Back, Paying it Forward or Tithing, giving or philanthropy should be part of your financial plan. It is no coincidence that many of the world’s wealthiest people have strong traditions of giving. Some say it’s the law of reciprocity, a universal principle, which posits that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, interpreted as, the more you give, the more you will receive. Learn more about giving.