Finance

Smart Money Moves for a Brighter Financial Future

Making smart financial decisions now can help you achieve your biggest goals later in life. Things like buying a house, planning a wedding, having children, and retiring will all be easier with a long-term financial strategy in place. It’s never too late to get started — here are five money moves to make now for a brighter financial future. 

1. Find a Job That Supports You — and Your Future Goals

A solid career is the first step to making your financial goals a reality. If your current position isn’t helping you reach these goals, it’s time to start looking for one that will. When searching for new jobs, consider the overall benefits package offered. In addition to a fair salary, look for a competitive retirement match and comprehensive insurance coverage.

Finding the right job for you requires hard work and an open mind. Don’t be afraid to explore new positions in other industries. You might be surprised by where your current skills — or those you acquire — can take you. Online courses and videos are an effective way to learn new skills and stay on top of industry trends.

You’ll also need to make sure those skills are showcased well with a high-quality resume. An AI resume builder can help you customize your resume for each application. Depending on the industry, you may also want to create a portfolio showcasing previous projects. 

2. Create a Monthly Budget

A budget serves as a helpful guide for your spending each month. When your budget is well-constructed, it will help prevent you from overspending and ensure that you have enough money to meet your needs. You can also use a monthly budget to save for big financial goals, like a vacation or a new car. 

If you’re not sure where to start, try using a budget spreadsheet or app. Naturally, you’ll want to customize your budget to your unique needs and goals. For example, a family of four will have a very different budget from a young, single professional, even if they make the same amount of money. 

When creating your budget, start by looking at your monthly income, necessities, and savings objectives. Once you have those numbers in place, you can budget the remainder of your income for optional expenses.

It’s OK to treat yourself occasionally, but you may need to make some sacrifices to make ends meet. Things like bringing a homemade lunch to work or exercising at home instead of the gym will help you keep expenses in check. 

3. Keep Debt Under Control

High levels of debt can come back to haunt you later in life, so try to keep your borrowing in check now. Debt is necessary in some cases: Mortgages, car loans, and student loans, for example, are often unavoidable. However, do your best to steer clear of unnecessary credit card debt, especially if it comes with a high interest rate. 

If you already have a large amount of debt, talk with a financial advisor about your repayment options. You may be able to consolidate your debt at a lower interest rate to help you pay it off faster. In extreme cases, you may need to file for bankruptcy to eliminate your debts. Once you have things under control, focus on building an emergency fund. This will help keep you from going back into debt when unexpected expenses come up. 

4. Explore Side Hustles

If your budget contains little room for the fun things in life, or you’re digging out from substantial debt, consider side hustles. There are money-making opportunities out there for people of all ages and experience levels, ranging from completing simple tasks online to starting a business. Having a side hustle will also soften the financial blow if you should happen to lose your main job. 

A great place to start is by considering the skills you already have. If you’re good with animals, try walking dogs for your neighbors. If you’re a social media maven, look for local businesses that need help with their Instagram or TikTok presence. No matter what your skill set is, there’s a good chance you can monetize it. 

If you’re seeking a more laid-back side hustle, there are plenty of opportunities online that require just a few hours a week. Taking surveys, joining focus groups, and completing UI tests won’t make you rich, but they can yield a little bit of extra cash. Sharing economy apps can also help you make money by renting out your car or even an extra room in your house. 

5. Set Up an Investment Plan

To grow your wealth efficiently, you’ll need to invest part of your monthly earnings. For most people, this starts with an employer-sponsored retirement plan. Many employers will match your monthly contribution to a 401(k) account. With a 401(k) account, you’ll be able to choose from a variety of investment vehicles that cater to your risk preferences. 

If your employer doesn’t offer a 401(k), consider opening your retirement account instead. Your most likely possibilities are a traditional IRA or Roth IRA. Each type of IRA comes with different tax benefits and implications, so be sure to discuss your options with a financial professional. 

Investing outside of your retirement plan can help you grow your wealth even further. To do this, you’d do well to open up an account with a reputable brokerage. As with your retirement account, you’ll be able to choose between professionally managed and DIY options. 

Final Thoughts

Financial planning is a must for everyone, whether you’re approaching retirement or just starting your career. Everyone’s financial situation is different, so be sure to tailor your money moves to your income and goals. Working with a financial professional can also be helpful if you’re feeling stuck or overwhelmed.

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