Financial success means something different to everyone. To one, it may mean having a net worth over $1 million; to someone else it may mean simply being debt free. Regardless of where you stand, it’s important to know what financial stability looks like. You want to focus on things that matter and not waste time on those that don’t. Here are five simple ways to pursue financial success.
1. Have A Financial Plan
The first step to pursuing financial success is having a financial plan. This may or may not include a budget. That’s not what really matters. What does matter is knowing where your money is going and how it’s being spent. That information gives you knowledge which, in turn, is power. That power allows you to control your money and not it, you.
Establishing a plan for your finances may sound overwhelming, but don’t let that feeling stop you. “When people hear the term financial plan, they immediately feel intimidated or overwhelmed. But when broken into smaller pieces, creating a financial plan can be very simple. A financial plan is simply setting goals and laying out how you will achieve them,” says Melinda Kibler, CFP®, EA of Palisades Hudson Financial Group LLC. If you don’t know where to start, just write down what you earn each month; how you spend it; and your goals. It’s the aligning of spending and goals that breeds success.
2. Prepare for Emergencies
A financially successful person can handle most emergencies in stride. Why is that? It’s because they have an emergency fund to lean on in times of trouble. Many experts recommend having an emergency fund to cover at least 3-6 months of expenses.
If you’re just starting out and that amount seems impossible, you can still experience success. Start with a goal of saving $500 in a savings account, then challenge yourself to save $1,000. That will give you the momentum needed to build a healthy emergency fund.
The best way to approach this mentality is by paying yourself first with each paycheck. “‘Pay yourself first’ is the best way to kick start your savings account. Most people spend everything in their checking account each month. The trick with the ‘pay yourself first’ strategy is to set aside a percentage of every paycheck immediately,” says Jenna Biancavilla, CCPS®, ELA™, CEO of Pearl Capital Management. Taking this approach not only protects against future debt but also helps you save for future big-ticket needs.
3. Wisely Use Debt
Debt plagues many, holding them back from reaching goals. A financially successful person, on the other hand, wisely leverages debt to reach their goals. Keep in mind; this is not high-interest debt like credit cards or other consumer debt. “Using debt, or leverage, in a smart way, can propel you towards your financial goals. It’s much more difficult to get an education, or purchase your first home without leverage these days,” says Biancavilla.
If used wisely, a financially successful person uses debt to grow their wealth directly or indirectly. The key is to do it with wisdom and due diligence.
4. Taking Advantage of Workplace Benefits
Many think the only benefit they receive from their employer is a paycheck. Though understandable, a financially successful person takes advantage of benefits offered by their employer – some of which are free or relatively cheap. Some of those benefits are:
- A 401(k) match
- Buying group life coverage to supplement external life insurance policies
- Voluntary benefits to extend the coverage of a health insurance policy
- Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Account (FSA) incentives
You may find that your employer offers other benefits. A simple way to pursue financial success is to take advantage of those benefits as they can both save and make you money.
5. Prepare for Tomorrow
Financial success looks beyond today. It looks at what life may bring in 5, 10 or 20 years and it prepares accordingly. It also looks to protect and provide for those around them. This is as simple as actively saving for retirement, but it looks beyond that to some of the following things:
- Disability insurance
- Life insurance
- Having a will in place
We never know what will happen to us. Preparing for tomorrow, and beyond, allows financially successful individuals to protect those they love by making sure they have what they need. Thankfully, preparation isn’t as overwhelming as it looks. With a little homework, you can ensure you have the proper preparations in place.
Financial success for you will look different than what it will for others. With a personal plan and a little work, you can chart a course to reach what success looks like for you.