Money skills are something that every adult needs, but unfortunately, many people don’t have much knowledge on how to handle their finances. That’s one of the reasons that so many end up trapped in a cycle of debt. Fortunately, you don’t need to be a financial wizard. By developing a few key money skills, you can dramatically improve your financial situation in the short and long term.
Learn How to Write a Budget
The first step in reaching any financial goal, whether that’s saving money or getting out of debt, is figuring out your current situation. That means you need to know exactly how much income you have coming in every month, and where it’s going. Calculating your income typically isn’t too difficult. While expenses can vary, you should set a specific amount as your maximum for each expense category to encourage yourself not to go over budget.
Use Credit Responsibly
Some people avoid credit cards like the plague. Others use credit cards far too much and end up with a huge balance. Ideally, you want to fall in the middle of these two extremes.
Using credit cards is one of the fastest, most effective ways to improve your credit score. Through credit card reward programs, you can also get cash back or reward points on the money you spend. Both of these reasons make it smart to obtain and use a credit card. However, you should treat your credit card exactly like you would your debit card. Don’t buy anything unless you already have the money to pay for it. At the end of the month, pay your balance in full to avoid interest charges.
Develop the Ability to Save Money
Saving money may be simple, but it isn’t easy. It requires you to forgo the short-term pleasures of spending money on things that you want and instead think long term. The best way to do this is to get into the habit of taking a certain amount out of your income every time you get paid and putting it into a savings account. When you prioritize saving money this way, it’s much easier to turn that into a habit and continue doing it month after month.
Grow Your Money
You can put a certain amount of money in a CD, which will offer a higher interest rate than a savings account but also require that you keep the money in that CD for a certain amount of time. If your employer offers a retirement plan, you should contribute as much as possible to that. You could also look into investing your money in low-risk indexes that provide a consistent return.
You’re never too young or too old to start learning money skills. Start with the basics and then build on them once you’re on a solid financial footing.