September is National Self-Improvement Month! The perfect time to make some changes in your life, especially when it comes to your finances. Financial professional Mindy McIntosh talks with FOX66 WSMH about how everyone can get started to reach their financial goals.
1. Evaluate & Create a Plan – It doesn’t matter what your financial goal is, take week one to evaluate your budget and take inventory. Most people will find their financial goals can be reached if they have a budget. It helps determine exactly where your money is going so that you see where you need to make changes. Check your bank accounts for spending habits, take a look at the debt you owe – student loans, car loans, credit card payments – make a list and keep track of your balances, interest rates and payment due dates to make sure you’re not racking up any unnecessary fees.
2. Look for Ways to Save – During week two, try to limit your spending and find ways you can cut back and save. One idea is to designate one a day week as the “no spend day.” Instead of paying for activities, find out what’s going on in your community for free. Enjoy the outdoors at a local park, visit a free museum or zoo or make dinner at home. When families don’t have money to face an unexpected expense, like a broken-down car or a medical bill, they may have to borrow to cover the tab – and that can lead to a cycle of debt.
3. Review Retirement Accounts – Week three is all about retirement. I recommend to my clients they put away 10-15% of their salary into a 401(k) or IRA. If you started the year at the lower end, work your way up to that 15% by increasing your savings by 1% every year. Some retirement savings plans will allow you to automate increased contributions, so you don’t even have to think about it.
4. Keep Going – Use week four to review your plans and keep forging ahead! Keep the momentum you’ve built during this month and keep it through the end of year! Roadblocks and setbacks are bound to happen. If you find yourself struggling to make a budget or find ways to save for retirement, visit a financial professional. It’s okay to ask for help!