“It’s not what you make but what you keep that determines financial success. Pay yourself first and save what you pay yourself.”
I just read a story released by the Washington Post describing families making over half million dollars a year who are struggling financially and have no saving.
They live paycheck to paycheck being “trapped by lifestyle,” quoting Lori Atwood, a financial adviser based in Washington DC.
People need to do a money reality check. Here are some tips I cut, paste, and adapt based on that story I read from the Washington Post.
* Prioritize. Try not to live each month to the very last dollar you earn.
* Always have at least $1,000 in liquid savings for non-discretionary expenses . If you don’t have this, the only place to turn to use credit cards.
* Never use a credit card with a balance for daily needs. You will never pay it off.
* Try to make sure your fixed expenses — housing, child care, car payments, student loans, credit card minimums — are no more than 43 percent of your household take-home pay. Anything above that percentage generally means you will feel financial stress.
* Spend less than you earn each month.
* Make trade-offs for discretionary expenses. “Should we eat out? No, let’s use the money instead for Susie’s soccer camp.”
* Never say “might as well” when it comes to a purchase if you don’t have the money on hand.
* Decide between what you must have and what is optional. Only the basics — housing, utilities, health, groceries, transportation — are “must haves.” Everything else is optional and ripe for trimming.
* Track your discretionary spending closely. That’s where the train goes off the tracks. Your utility bills are predictable. Your outside dining is not. You can change where and how much you eat so know where you spend so you can trim.
I am so glad that the Financial Fitness Services offer the tracking and other services needed to face this ongoing money reality check. But, it all starts with your ongoing financial literacy education which is the best investment you can make, and be part of a community of like minded people aspiring for financial freedom.
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