For the vast majority of people in the world, work is a means to gain money — and thus, security in life. From food to shelter and transportation to other essentials, we just need to work to make money, almost without exception.
If we’re honest with ourselves, we don’t always make the most of our labor. With Labor Day in mind, we would do well to think about whether or not we’re working efficiently and effectively — particularly when it comes to the management of the fruits of our labor. If you’re doing the work, you want to reap the reward. However, how we manage that rewards deeply impacts our future security.
How many of us have gotten to the end of a month finding our bank accounts drained and wondering where it all went? It makes the work we do to earn money seem pretty meaningless when you are left with little to show for it.
These tips are designed to ensure that you see — and feel — progress in your bank account.
Balance your checkbook.
While the art of balancing one’s checkbook is slowly being lost to the digitization of our finances, we can all benefit from the practice in some form or fashion. The danger in automated financing is that we don’t pay as close attention to our accounts as perhaps we should. It becomes very easy to rely on billing statements versus your own record-keeping. Billing statements are great, but they don’t help you monitor and wrangle your spending.
When you physically write down your expenses and purchases, you more clearly see how things add up and where you need to cut back before it becomes a big problem.
Live within (or under) your budget.
Budget, budget, budget. We can’t say this enough. It doesn’t matter what your income looks like — you need a budget. Not only do budgets help us allocate and plan our spending, but it creates a goal for spending and a goal for saving. It is the first step in focusing on your finances. Budgets give you the target to shoot for.
If you aren’t hitting your budget target, you must re-examine and adjust your habits accordingly. Budgeting will allow you to make the most out of your income.
Create financial goals.
If budgeting is the first step, goal-setting is the next. A big problem we have when we lack financial focus is the compulsion to spend. We make more impulsive purchases in pursuit of something that will give us that feel-good endorphin rush.
Having a financial goal, however, creates an avenue for wealth and an outlet for your desires. Rather than spend money on a hobby or trivial possession, you can focus on saving up for something you really want, like a new car, home, or investment. Make a goal for your savings account or an investment account. Save for down-payments and paying off debt. Meeting these goals will give you pride and satisfaction but not at the expense of your bank account.
Few things eat into profits quite like outstanding debts. Between house payments, car notes, credit cards, and personal loans, it is very easy to get so in debt that you barely notice your paycheck — it immediately gets taken and applied to these debts. What you can do to reclaim your finances and your income is pay off your debts. Make short-term sacrifices to do it quickly, avoiding as much added interest as possible.
Part of creating financial security is investing. When you invest in say, real estate, you are able to generate additional cash flow and equity over time. This is a classic way to “make your money work for you.” You’d be hard-pressed to find a better way to get the most out of your time and effort — especially if you invest in turnkey real estate, where the heavy lifting is left to your expert team?
Be sure to check out: Stop Procrastinating — Now is the Time to Invest in Real Estate
Adjust with your needs.
Our needs change over time. Our encouragement may be to live at or below your means, but those definitions shift as we get older. We value different things, our tastes and needs vary, and, in general, we shift priorities. In order to make the most of your income (and thus, the time you spend on the job), you must consistently evaluate your needs versus your wants.
Awareness is not enough. Orchestrate an action plan to reduce your spending, increase your savings, or otherwise ensure that your paycheck is going towards what you really need.
Get your investment life in order with Memphis Invest.