habits

There’s a popular expression that goes, “Woulda, coulda, shoulda.” This simple phrase expresses regret while acknowledging that it’s much easier to see the correct course of action in hindsight. How does this apply to personal finance? Well, it’s easy to get down in the dumps about all the things you wish you’d done earlier. Sometimes, it can even feel impossible to make a major change because you’ve been doing things a certain way for so long. If you’re carrying debt, it may feel like it’s “too late” for you – like you’ve dug a hole so deep that there’s no point in even trying to improve your circumstances.

But it’s truly never too late to start good money habits. All you need is a plan—and the determination to turn it into action!

 Sticking to a Budget

Budgeting sounds daunting if you’ve never done it before. But it’s really just a matter of committing to logging your money habits. Set aside a chunk of time each week to update your spreadsheet or app. This will help you track your spending accurately. Then take a look at the areas in which you’re spending the most.

Soon, you’ll start to notice patterns. Maybe your takeout habit is adding up to more money per month than you thought. Perhaps your entertainment subscriptions are eating up a significant portion of your disposable income. Your online shopping habit may be contributing to the credit card balance you carry from month to month. Once you’ve identified detrimental habits, you can change your behavior and apply the savings to your long-term goals.

 Saving for Retirement

Compound interest is a powerful thing because it enables you to earn returns—on your initial investment and its returns. Investing $250 per month starting at age 25 with an eight percent return means you’ll have accumulated $878,570 by age 65. Doing the same at age 35 will leave you with $375,073. If you start at age 45, you’ll end up with retirement savings of $148,236.

The lesson? Earlier is better, but you can and should start as soon as possible to reap the biggest rewards.

 Paying Off Debt

Here’s a piece of advice the co-founder of Freedom Financial Network, a leading consumer finance resolution services company, Andrew Housser lives by: “Ask myself, ‘Where do I want to be in 1, 3 and 5 years from now?’ Then try to take actions to make that a reality.”

Besides the obvious stress, debt holds people back from achieving larger life dreams. It’s hard to look years ahead when you’re just trying to stay afloat month to month. So, the logical first step is to work to eliminate debt. How? Well, first you can decide whether you want to take the reins on your own or utilize a debt relief program. One of the positives debt settlement clients often mention in Freedom Debt Relief reviews is that it’s helpful to have a consultant and debt negotiator on your side as you work toward the goal of saving up and paying off debt in a settlement that’s less than your original balance.

However, some consumers have great luck tackling their debt on their own, possible utilizing balance transfers and strict budgeting to overcome debt. How you tackle debt is up to you, but it’s a necessary step in securing your financial future.

 Establishing Emergency Fund

Stashing away six to eight months’ worth of living expenses might sound intimidating at first. Why bother? You might think. I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. But that bridge will come someday—whether in the form of medical bills, a vehicle breakdown, a home repair issue, a layoff or any other emergency you can imagine. Start by setting aside whatever you can, then increase this amount as you streamline the rest of your budget.

It’s never too late to take steps toward tuning up your financial health. Start now. You’ll thank yourself later.