Guy Gentile: Habits to Better Manage Your Personal Financial Future, Today

Stress has been shown to poorly impact an individual’s health, including poor eating habits, low energy, insomnia, headaches and other physical issues. According to a study, money is the most common source of stress for 62 percent of Americans. Learn how to properly control your income and expenses by developing positive habits to manage your personal finances, and the stress of your financial future may not be as overwhelming.

Always Make a Shopping List

Plan ahead for your next trip to the grocery store. Seventy-two percent of grocery shoppers who shop with lists rarely or never make impulse purchases. By knowing exactly what you need to purchase before heading to the store, you can avoid buying unneeded items that will go unused or be a waste of your spending.

When shopping, keep in mind the best value for what you are buying. You may not need to purchase the name brand item, as it’s very similar to the off-brand item and costs twice the price. Take a step back and make sure you have the best quality for the price you are going to be paying for an item, and if the extra cost is worth the brand name.

Track Your Spending

From the gas station and grocery store to restaurants and monthly bills, it’s important to know where your money is going. A good way to start building towards a healthy financial future is to become aware of what your current financial state looks like. Exactly how much money are you spending on eating out every month? What bills do you have every month, and what do they add up to?

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Apps like Every Dollar make it easy to keep track of your spending as you go throughout your day. Budget as you go and enter your daily spending into different spending categories with transaction amounts, to keep track of your money.

Make a Plan

Once you have an understanding of your monthly fixed expenses, such as rent, student loans and car payments, and your varying expenditures, such as eating out, beauty and social outings, it’s time to make a plan for your finances.

Only 30 percent of Americans have a long-term financial plan that includes savings and investment goals, according to statistics. Make a plan that encompasses your fixed expenses, varying expenditures, and your savings and investment goals, by calculating your monthly income and building a budget for your lifestyle.

In addition to your normal savings, have a short-term goal to save towards and use it as motivation to follow your budget. If you know that you would like to go on a vacation within the next year, figure out how you can reallocate your finances to prepare for and afford your next trip. Rather than just saving money, now you’re saving money for a relatively close goal, making your goals seem more attainable.

Additionally, make a plan to set up auto-pay on your recurring bills. This will ensure you never miss a payment and help avoid late fees. Paying your bills on time also helps increase your credit score, which could mean lower interest rates in the future.

Know When to Say No

Many social activities often include spending money, whether you’re going out to eat or golfing for the day, it’s going to cost you. Learn to say no to activities on occasion and gauge what ones are important enough to spend money on.

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Learning to say no to that $5  Starbucks coffee every day and making a pot at home could save you up to $1,825 a year. Small items can quickly add up, so be cautious of thinking, “Oh, it’s only $5.”

Surprisingly, it may be smart to say no to television, too. Advertising is focused on reaching an audience to bring in customers. Too much exposure to ads can impact your spending habits and subconsciously encourage you to impulse buy items you do not need.

Overall, when creating healthy habits for your future, it’s important to focus on your financial health as you move forward. Developing healthy spending and saving habits can help ease the stress of money. Remember, you want to be spending less than you are making.

By saving now, you can prepare yourself for financial emergencies, your next vacation or a comfortable retirement. Today is the best time to start thinking about what you want to achieve and how properly managing your finances can help you get there.

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