You may look like an adult, but here's how to tell if you've really grown up financially
Have You Grown Up Financially?
by Alex J. Coyne
When you were a kid, your parents took care of all the hard stuff like loans, mortgages, car payments, and food. But there's a point where everyone realizes they've grown up. Mine was the first day I lined up to buy cleaning supplies for our first apartment, and I remember thinking, "Oh, man, it's started." While that was when I realized I was grown up, it took me a while to grow up financially.
Have you grown up financially? Here's what you need to start thinking about:
What Is a Financial Adult?
"A financially mature person," says Helen Ueckermann, a freelance journalist with years of experience in the financial field, "is someone who knows and understands his own finances, making the best financial decisions for the future."
"This type of person is nobody's slave, doesn't believe in the debt myth, and knows that future advantages are not needed today. He or she can see the danger of financial spider webs a mile off and decides in time that that is not the way to go." says Helen.
According to Helen, being a financial adult means thinking and planning for the long-term, and she emphasizes, "A financially mature person is one who has insight in the possible consequences of money decisions: the impact on him-/herself, family and personal finances."
Learning to Budget
Get into the routine of budgeting regularly. Sit down and take a look at what you have coming in every week or month, what has to be done, and how you've actually been spending your money. Seeing it at a glance like this is a great way to see where money has to go and where you can cut down.
If you need a little help, there's some great software out there for budgeting. One we recommend for those who appreciate the simplicity of an Excel spreadsheet for budgeting is SimplePlanning.com. If you'd rather track your budget using an app that you can access both on a computer and your phone, we recommend Personal Capital, a free service similar to Mint.
Are you putting away as much as you should? GOBankingRates (2015) says that around 62% of us have less than $1,000 in a savings account. Savings are essential, and it doesn't have to be that hard. If you manage to put away just $10 per week for ten years, you'll have $5,200 stashed away for when you need it. Plus, you'll have interest!
We've done the legwork to find the best savings account rates for you. See what we found in this Battle of the Best Savings Accounts.
According to NerdWallet, US credit card debt averages $15,310 per US household. How much is yours clocking in? As a financial adult, it's about building your credit score and learning how to use the credit you have access to in a responsible way. Use some of these pointers when tackling your credit.
- Avoid using one debt to settle another. This knocks your credit score, and it's the quickest way to get caught up in a seemingly never ending spiral of credit.
- Pay the installments on time. If and when you can't, it's always better to contact your credit provider and inform them you're having trouble. In most cases, it will be taken into account.
- Always pay more than the minimum amount when you can. This improves your credit score, and you'll end up settling your debt quicker.
- Remember that credit should be working for you. It provides movement room in an emergency, but a huge financial burden if that emergency strikes and you have no available credit to use.
Use these guidelines to choose the best plan to pay off your credit card balances.
Isn't it too early to think about retirement? Nope. If 62% of Americans don't have less than a grand in savings, consider what this could mean for retirement savings overall. Use this calculator from the SSA to calculate your retirement age. It's never too early to start preparing for your retirement, and a financially mature adult is able to look far enough into the future to see that they should be preparing for this sooner rather than later. Are you prepared for retirement? How about the unforeseen?
Rethink what your money can do. Better manage and grow your wealth with Betterment.
Life and Health Insurance
We're all going to get sick, and we're all going to die and not in an Apocalypse Now kind of way, either. Have you prepared for the inevitable? Things like health and life insurance are often the last things people think about when they sit down to budget, while it should really be one of the first. Are you protected in the event of serious illness or disability? Just because you're healthy now doesn't mean it will stay that way. Financial maturity means being able to look ahead.
Being a financial adult isn't limited to your age. Some people are more financially grown up at 25 than others will be by 65. It's all about how you start preparing for your financial future. It's never too early or too late to become a financial adult.
Take the Next Step:
- Funding an emergency fund now can help prevent debt problems and even bankruptcy later. Start saving today with these 11 easy ways to find $1000 for an emergency fund.
- Find out: What does my debt cost me?
- Make sure you're getting the best CD rate. Use our simple CD tool to find out. It's completely private, easy to use and you'll know what rate is available to you in seconds!
- Stop allowing debt to prevent you from doing the things you want. These 6 steps to getting out of debt can solve that problem. Get started today!
- Stop struggling to get ahead financially. Subscribe to our free weekly Surviving Tough Times newsletter aimed at helping you 'live better...for less'. Each issue features great ways to help you stretch your dollars and make the most of your resources. Subscribers get a copy of Are You Heading for Debt Trouble? A Simple Checklist And What You Can Do About It for FREE!
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