Are you financially fit? If you’re like three out of four people, the answer is, “No.” But it’s possible to make real headway toward financial security in just a few weeks. Here’s how:
First: Make concrete goals. Financial planner Tom Corley says a lot of us have vague goals like “I should save more.” But if you make it real, like “I’ll save $100 a week.” Then you can have $100 taken out of your checking and put into your savings automatically. And that’s better than randomly cutting back because the $20 you save by not going out to dinner may turn into $20 you spend on a Starbucks run every morning. Basically, people don’t like making budgets or thinking about where to cut back. So just make it a blanket $100 pulled from your checking account. If you don’t have it, you can’t spend it.
Another step toward financial fitness: Put more money toward your debt because when you pay only the minimum on your credit cards, it can add years to your debt and cost thousands of extra dollars in interest. But adding even an extra $15 to your minimum credit card payments can cut the total interest you pay in half.
Finally: Cut off your kids. Research shows that almost half of middle-aged adults provide financial support to their grown kids. And even if that’s not damaging your retirement plans, it’s robbing your kids of the chance to be financially independent. Susan Ende wrote How to Raise Your Adult Children. And she says waiting until your child comes for their next handout to say, “Sorry, Junior!” will only create unnecessary resentment. Instead, sit down with your kids before they ask for anything. Tell them that you’re reducing their financial aid to zero over the next six months. And between now and then, you’re only good for cash for a real emergency like a busted water heater. Not just so they can afford to make payments on a nicer car than you drive.