Article by Ceri Wheeldon
Most of us are not financially fit. We are not completely aware of how our money is being spent. We have too much debt and spend money on the wrong things. While it can be challenging to turn things around, it’s well within your reach.
There is no single, correct path to financial prosperity. Different solutions work for different people.
While there are multiple paths, there are some steps that are critical, regardless of the specific path followed:
- Know where your money is being spent. Many people only have a vague idea about how much money they make and where it goes. The first step to financial fitness is know exactly how much you’re taking home and where it’s being spent.
- The Finance module of the MidLife MOT programme will help you fully understand precisely what you spend – and highlight areas for improvement.
- Set short-term and long-term goals. Set a few goals that will cover the next month, year, and five years. How are you going to make these goals come to fruition?
- Allocate your spending wisely. A few simple guidelines will help you to regain your financial fitness. If you’re already in a good place financially, these guidelines will help you to stay there:
- Keep your fixed expenses to 50% or less of your take-home pay. This includes things like rent or mortgage payments, utilities, car payments, gas, and food. Basically, the things you must spend money on each month.
- Use 20% of your take-home pay to build an emergency fund, pay off your debt, and to save for your retirement. It is recommended that your emergency fund be able to cover your fixed expenses for 6-9 months. How the money is split between your retirement, debt, and emergency fund will depend on your situation.
- The remaining 30% can be used as you see fit. This is the money you can spend on vacations, eating out, or hiring a landscaper. This money can also be put towards the previous category, but be sure to enjoy your life along the way.
- Eliminate your debt. Debt is the most insidious obstacle to your financial fitness.
- Be aware of your credit score.. Lenders are obsessed with your credit score. You should be even more obsessed. It is important to try and get a better credit score and while it isn’t easy there are ways that you can do this such as clearing your debts and making sure you pay your bills on time.
- Be careful with your credit cards. It’s always best to be cautious about whipping out the credit card. If you don’t have the money in your bank account, it’s important to think about how critical this purchase really is.
- Get adequate insurance. What could be worse than finally getting back into good financial shape, only to have it all wiped out by an illness or house fire? Protect your assets and limit your liability.
Reaching a point of financial fitness is a necessary objective. Not only does it give you the opportunity to relax and enjoy your life, it also makes your future much more secure. Understanding your finances and allocating your funds properly helps to ensure that you have enough both now and in the future.
Have financial goals and protect your assets. Get started today and become financially fit.
If you need a little extra help, the worksheets in the MidLife MOT’s finance module can help you work through these, from understanding current and future needs, tracking old pension plans, the module guides you through.