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Quick Steps To Take Control

Clearly, Americans are struggling with understanding and managing money. Yet it’s a trend that can be reversed. If you feel that you need to better control money, getting started may be easier than you think – change lies in adjusting our attitude. We must learn to invest in ourselves. After all, aren’t we worth it? Here are some first steps.

Invest in yourself first: money buys your future and your security

image of trees made of moneyCommit to planning by creating some special funds. Contribute to them each month – before you pay your bills.…

  1. Once you’ve set a monthly savings goal, invest that amount each month.
  2. Put money aside to slowly build an emergency fund.
  3. Start a “fun” fund and set aside a designated amount to reward yourself with a vacation that you don’t have to put on a charge card.
  4. Set aside an amount to invest in your retirement. (In addition to any employer-sponsor funds supported by your paycheck.)
  5. If you have large charge card debt, set a monthly payment goal – and stick to it. Write that check, too, before you buy more. It might be tough at first, but you’ve got to get that balance down.

Remember: you do all this before 1) you pay your bills or 2) you buy anything discretionary for the month. What you have left after paying into your personal funds is the money you have to spend for the month.

Got a raise, a bonus, or a tax refund?

Save it rather than expand your consumption. Model good spending habits for your children; that goal should help you resist the urge to spend. Defy the messages of the merchants in the marketplace.

Take advantage of any matching funds

Pledge to maximize contributions in an employer’s matching program if you are lucky enough to have one. Don’t let those matching dollars go unused!

Get professional help

If you are one of the many Americans who don’t know how to use financial tools to secure your future, consult your attorney, an accountant, or a financial advisor. People who use such professionals, report they feel more confident and at-ease about the future.