Money is something that affects everyone. Struggling financially can contribute greatly to stress and unfavorable health outcomes. You may feel that financial literacy is way over your head, but I’m here to tell you that a little bit of planning ahead can go a long way, and help you cope with financial stress.
Financial freedom can mean having enough savings, investments, and cash on hand to afford the kind of life you desire for you and your family. Being financially free means paying off lingering debt, having an emergency fund, and having an income that is suitable to pay for current and future living expenses. This may be an overwhelming concept at first, but once you have a plan in place, financial wellness is the light at the end of the tunnel.
Here are 10 tips and tricks for establishing financial freedom so you don’t sweat it when an unexpected bill comes up:
- Learn how to budget. Create a plan for your money that you can stick to. At the beginning of each month, sit down and plan out your budget for each week, then track your spending throughout the month. If you find that you are overspending in one area and underspending in another, you can adjust your allocations.
- Reduce debt. If possible, make an extra payment on your credit cards, car loans, or student loans. This will save you money in the long haul on interest.
- Set financial goals. Make sure your goals are SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time bound. Write them down and tell others about your goals so they can hold you accountable.
- Put aside an emergency fund. Life can throw things at you unexpectedly, and it’s good to be prepared for when it inevitably does. Having a buffer for sneaky car repairs, broken appliances, and surprise medical bills will keep your mind at ease and ready to take on whatever life brings.
- Plan for big purchases. This can be a new car, upcoming vacation, or really any large expense that costs more than what you’re used to spending. Figure out the total cost and divide it by the number of months you must save for this purchase.
- Invest in retirement. The sooner you start investing, the more time that your money will grow with compounding interest. Inquire with your workplace about potential retirement plans that they may offer. Some employers will even match your contributions.
- Look for ways to save money. Do you have monthly subscriptions that you never use and forgot to cancel? Do you eat out constantly rather than cooking homemade meals? Consider if there are any areas in your life that you can feasibly cut down on spending.
- Live below your means. Make sure you are spending less than your income. It’s okay to want nice things, but it’s important to acknowledge when you can afford to indulge vs. when you can benefit from saying no.
- Prioritize your health. Healthcare is a huge expense and insurance doesn’t cover everything. Invest in your physical and mental health to decrease the necessity of doctors’ visits and medical bills.
- Work with a financial advisor. If the idea of a Roth IRA or 401(k) is confusing and overwhelming, consider looking for a financial advisor. They can help you make informed decisions on your investment strategy.
UNH offers a cool app for all students called CashCourse which is a FREE financial management resource. It’s as simple as creating a student account and then you’re on your way to taking charge of your finances.
UNH has several resources to promote your financial wellness. Health and Wellness provides wellness educators/counselors that you can set up an individual appointment with to discuss aspects of financial wellness. The Employee Assistance Program offers EAP counselors that can provide financial resources.
If you are struggling financially, these resources can help support you during tough times: financial aid, Granite State Management and Resources, financial literacy information, National Endowment for Financial Education, and basic needs support.