Improve Your Financial Health

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Money management has been a hot topic since forever, and for all good reasons too. Personal financing and ensuring you are on the right side of the financial health measurement scale is one of the most important things to live stress-free. Several rules have been developed over time and adopted as mantras for the betterment of personal finances. While some of these work like a charm, others may not due to circumstantial applications. Keeping aside the so-called home remedies, there are a few basic things you can do to ensure that your financial health is on track. 

Calculate Your Net Worth 

Seemingly technical, the concept of net worth is pretty simple – it is the difference between what you earn and what you owe. ‘What you earn’ can be comprised by any assets you may have, while ‘what you owe’ are your liabilities. Simply make a list of both and find the difference to get your net worth. It is normal for your net worth to change and fluctuate over time. However, this does not imply that you should calculate it once and then leave it. Ideally, calculating your net worth every year can help you manage your finances and be on the right track. 

Set Financial Goals 

Goal setting is a tried and tested formula to get your tasks finished. You are likely to work more efficiently and enthusiastically if you have a certain goal in mind to achieve. The same applies to personal finances as well. Try and set financial goals every year for yourself. Whether it’s about saving a particular sum of money or simply about decreasing your expenditures, have a long-term or short-term financial goal in front of you. If possible, track your progress for your long-term financial goals. Make sure that you do the needful if you seem to steer off track or aren’t making any progress.  

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Make a Personal Budget And Stick to It!

Setting goals, calculating net worth and creating a personal budget are the three horsemen of healthy personal finances. Most people fail to have good financial health because they either fail to create a budget or don’t stick to it. Make a list of your income and your spending. Anything from your salary to child support, alimony, rent from tenants, bonus checks and social security can be considered an income. Basically, include everything that inflows money as income and everything that outflows money as spending. Subtract total spending from total income to find the surplus or overdraft. If you have a surplus, save it, invest it, or spend it as you deem fit. If you have an overdraft because your expenditure is higher than your income, you need to either cut the spending or increase your income. Creating a budget is not hard. The real test is sticking to it.

Tackle Lifestyle Inflation 

Quality of life is a standard inclusion when we calculate the growth rate of a nation, as it should be. And evidently, as soon as we start to earn more, we get tempted to spend more under the pretence of improving our quality of life. This act of spending more when you earn more is known as lifestyle inflation. Even if you can buy prettier and more luxurious products/services with lifestyle inflation, it harms your finances in the long run. Lifestyle inflation limits your potential to save and build your wealth over time since your surplus never grows with proportionate spending. Try to spot and control lifestyle inflation as and when you can. Keeping up with the latest trend, whether it’s in fashion or otherwise, might be necessary at times, but do not allow it to go too far. Start saving more when your income begins to increase and build funds for the future. 

Needs vs Wants – Controlling the Spends 

Segregating between needs and wants becomes crucial if you do not have a huge surplus every month or year. The ideal situation to fulfil every want of yours is when you have an unlimited income, but that is seldom the case. Try to draw a line between the things you absolutely need to survive every month and the things that are unnecessary but you want to buy. Even define the things that often fall into the grey area, for example, a phone. You need a good smartphone with ample features to stay connected to your loved ones, yes. But you do not need an overly expensive smartphone to do so. Figure out where you can draw the line between luxury and necessity to manage your spending. Once again, stick to the budget that you have created, if possible. 

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Early Bird Gets the Worm – Start Saving

‘Start saving early’ is advice that every finance expert will offer. It doesn’t take one to be an expert in finances in order to figure out that starting your savings account early is a wonderful policy. The reason is simple. The longer you save, the more you will end up with as your retirement fund. On top of that, savings can be further multiplied by investment. If you are sceptical about your understanding of the stock market, mutual funds and other riskier investment options, you can simply opt for safer options like fixed deposits. One way or the other, saving, investing and compounding your money will grow your personal finances. Start small and gradually increase your savings as your income increases. Keeping aside 10% of your monthly income as savings is a good place to begin. 

Be Prepared for Emergencies 

Emergency funds are as crucial to set up as your savings account. These emergencies could be a sudden illness you develop, a road accident or even losing your job. Unannounced problems can set you back several steps if you do not have a contingency plan ready to set in motion instantly. The formula that most people follow is to save up to 6 months’ worth of expenses as an emergency fund for themselves. This can work pretty well with significantly smaller emergencies. However, you may need a more financial support to take care of bigger problems like treating a critical illness. The ideal thing to do here is to keep all your important assets protected using insurance plans. At the very least, buy good health insurance to cover all unexpected treatment costs, a life insurance plan to help your dependents in case something happens to you, a car insurance plan and home insurance if you own a house. If an emergency strikes and you end up using your emergency funds, begin from scratch right away and start accumulating the funds again. 

In a Nutshell

Managing your finances will not always seem like a breeze. Tough times will be there for sure, but it is easy to swim past them if you are prepared. Hence, make sure that your savings, emergency funds, insurance options and spending are always in check. Re-visit your personal budget every time there is a significant change in income or expenses. Keep calculating your net worth to ensure that you have not strayed away from the path of maintaining good financial health. And last but not least, stick to your plans and decisions to spend less and save more. 

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