by Chris Haymon
Most people learn how to do their jobs through formal education and experience. But with all the time that we spend preparing for the workforce, many of us start our careers with a big gap in knowledge about how to manage the money we make. Sure, you probably have a handle on the basics, but how do you know if you’re spending wisely? Or saving enough for the future? This guide is full of tech tools and how-tos so you can stop guessing and start making a solid financial plan today.
Set a Budget – And Use Tools to Track It
So many people go through life without setting a personal budget, but this makes it hard to accomplish your money-related goals. Don’t worry, though! Budgeting doesn’t have to be complicated, and in fact, Forbes explains why the best budgeting strategy is to keep it simple.
One way to set a budget is to enter expenses and income into a spreadsheet, but we recommend using a budgeting app like Mint or YNAB. There are some great basic budgeting apps to choose from, with something to fit different needs. For example, the blog Benzinga highlights Mint as a top budgeting app for integrating with your accounts, whereas You Need a Budget (YNAB) is great for paying off debt.
Before you download a new budgeting app, another smart financial move is to take a look at your phone’s data plan because, of course, the more time you spend using apps, the more data you’ll use. That’s why this is the perfect time to look into whether you’d be better off switching to one of your carrier’s unlimited phone plans, which may be more affordable than paying for monthly usage.
Create Additional Income Streams
Once you have a good grip on your basic finances, it’s smart to set financial goals, and creating one or more additional streams of income is a good financial goal for anyone. Whether your larger goals are to pay off debt, build wealth, or save for the future, having more money coming in will help you get there.
With new options for getting into the gig economy, there are lots of ways you can bring in a little extra income. However, the best strategy is to find an income stream that also serves as an investment, such as real estate. One reason why investing in property works so well is that it has the potential to give you immediate returns through rental income, while you also build equity that adds to your wealth long-term.
Investing in real estate is something that most professionals can do successfully, but you definitely want to learn about your options, the benefits and drawbacks of each, and what fits your interest and budget. For example, someone who is more hands-on may want to consider flipping properties or managing rentals, or you could take a hands-off approach through real estate investment trusts.
Save for the Future
Everyone knows they should be saving money in a rainy day fund, but knowing what you should do and actually accomplishing it are two different things. Perhaps the best strategy for saving more is to make it automated. You may already divert a portion of your paycheck to a retirement account. Another way to automate savings is to set up a monthly transfer through your bank or a savings app like Chime.
Companies can actually play a role in this goal, too, by giving their employees resources for savings (along with other types of financial support). While financial support may not be a traditional benefit, the blog Human Resource Executive explains how common it is for employees to worry about finances – and how that carries over into job performance. Your business may want to provide access to a financial planner, or you could offer financial education sessions to employees.
Financial literacy is a life skill that everyone needs but that few people actually get through formal education. Once you have it, though, it makes you less stressed and better equipped to handle whatever comes your way. This is obviously the perfect combination for a happy, healthy employees and a better workforce overall!