Staying on top of your finances is no easy feat. With so many tempting ads surrounding us every day, more bills than we can keep track of, and student loans that seem to haunt us like the monsters in our childhood closet, it sometimes feels like running away from the financial boogeyman is way easier than confronting him upfront.
However, once you start putting a few key habits in place, you’ll discover just how easy and relieving it is to actually be on top of your cash flow. Here are the three habits you need to get your finances together (and keep ‘em there).
1. Spend Less Than You Earn
While this habit is a bit obvious, it’s also the one that people seem to struggle with the most. The key to budgeting is simple as pie: spend less than you make (unlike actual pie, which you should totally eat 100% of).
The key to creating a budget is to be realistic. That means not only allocating money for savings, your emergency fund, necessities like rent and utilities, and gas, but also to entertainment like movie-going, shopping, and subscription streaming platforms. After all, if you don’t put Netflix on your spreadsheet, that doesn’t mean you won’t be tuning into next week’s episode of your favorite show.
2. Loop in an Expert
Staying on top of your finances sometimes takes more planning and intuition than you currently have—and that’s okay.
Consulting an expert who knows all the tools, services, and accounts at your disposal is a far more efficient method of managing your finances than staring blankly at a spreadsheet and weeping softly to yourself. Instead of using those receipts as tissues, hand them over to your advisor, who will keep you updated via independent advisor platforms that track your accounts and progress.
Make sure to share any of your major financial goals, like:
- Inviting a beautiful new baby into the family
- Buying your very first home
- Investing in a startup
- Starting your own business
- Traveling around the world
- Planning a big home makeover
3. Know Your Worth
Take a good look at the work you do at your company or how much you’re charging your clients. Does your salary reflect your efforts? Are you getting paid an amount commensurate to the value you add to your employer or your business?
If not, it’s time to make a change.
Revisit your contract with your current company and leverage your talents to tweak and improve details and benefits like:
- Base pay
- Yearly bonuses
- Maternity or paternity leave
- Dental insurance
- Health insurance
- Job title
- Project selection
- Vacation time
- Work hours
And what makes this a habit and not a tip? Doing this every year. Knowing your worth is an ever-changing process. Make sure you’re checking in on what you are contributing and what you are earning, so you’re never getting the short end of the stick.
Prioritize Long-Term Rewards Over Immediate Gratification
When you’re learning to stay on top of your finances, it’s easy to grumble about all the fun stuff you suddenly “can’t” spend money on. However, you should be looking at it like this: look at all the fun stuff I will be able to spend on in a few years! When you put in the daily effort to properly manage your money, hold back on spending, and pay your debt, you’ll find that the long-term benefits far outweigh the short-term splurges that you want to make.
Believe us: a nice house and proper family planning in the future definitely beat that pair of designer shoes.