Have you ever looked over your financial life and felt overwhelmed at how complex it all seems? This can result in a lack of key activity for your financial wellness in the future. In a Pew Trusts study, it was revealed that one in five Americans say that they are not planning for retirement.
Not only that but when asked whether it more important to them to have financial stability or to move up the income ladder, a staggering 92% chose stability.
But stability is not something that seems to be the norm. Sixty percent of American households reported experiencing a financial shock or a major setback, and more than half say that they worry about their finances.
Sticking to a budget, paying off debt, buying a home, saving for retirement, or any other step to simplify your finances will make financials goal easier to accomplish.
Here are some tips:
Most people can get by just fine with one checking account and one savings account. If you have more, consolidate your various accounts into a single checking account and one savings account. You’ll simplify your banking, without resulting in any loss in service level.
The same is true of retirement accounts. If you have several due to having previous jobs with 401(k) plans, one thing you could do is roll those plans over to a self-directed IRA account. Not only will this reduce paperwork, but it will also eliminate account fees and make it much easier to manage your retirement assets.
If you have a passion for rewards and zero interest rate promotions, you may have built up an impressive inventory of credit cards. But once the rewards and zero interest are gone, the cards have little value. Keep them open for credit scoring purposes, but focus your credit card use on a single card. Choose the one that offers the best benefits and put the rest away. It’s much simpler to manage your spending and handle payments with a single credit card than with five or ten.
What are you doing right?
A lot of times we will try to fix what was wrong, and don’t take time to reinforce the good habits and things that we were doing right. For example, if you were contributing to your savings last year, recognize that this was a great habit to have, and continue supporting it. And if you can automate those activities all the better, whether for a 401(k) payroll deduction or direct deposit from a bank account.
So if you really want to save for a goal, decide now how much you want to stash each month and have that money moved from your account on payday. If you never see it, you’ll never miss it.
For obvious reasons, it’s a good financial habit to monitor your bank and credit card account activity on a regular basis. And fortunately, most financial institutions offer online alerts that do a lot of that monitoring for you. You can even set the dollar amounts for balances or purchases with some banks.
Additionally, for credit cards, you can set payment reminders. That way, you won’t get hit with a late fee (which could be as much as $39 each time, according to CreditCards.com).
Online financial tools like Mint.com allow you to see your bank accounts, investments, credit cards, loans, and credit scores in one place in real time. And you have the ability to access that information anywhere, whether you’re on your work computer, smartphone, or home PC.
The tool also allows you to create a custom budget, print reports, or export data into Excel or Quicken which allows for easy collaboration with your tax preparer.
There are many different ways to prioritize and clarify your financial goals. Give some reflective thought to what you want out of life now and in the future, and realign your efforts towards achieving your goals.
Material contained in this article is provided for information purposes only and is not intended to be used in connection with the evaluation of any investments offered by David Lerner Associates, Inc. This material does not constitute an offer or recommendation to buy or sell securities and should not be considered in connection with the purchase or sale of securities.
To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law.
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David Lerner Associates does not provide tax or legal advice. The information presented here is not specific to any individual's personal circumstances. Member FINRA & SIPC