The following is a guest article from Sara Bailey at thewidow.net. Enjoy!
Planning for your financial future is never easy, especially if you have kids and are battling debt. However, there are several things you can do to make it go a little bit more smoothly so that the process isn’t stressful. Start by sitting down with your spouse or partner and creating a vision for the next five or 10 years. Do you want to have kids or buy a house? What kind of savings do you have, and how can you add to it without creating a hardship for yourselves? Asking yourself these questions now can help prevent some nasty surprises down the road and will allow you to start making a solid plan.
Creating a budget and tracking your spending is also imperative when planning out your finances. Keep in mind that the budget should be fairly easy for you to maintain and not something that will put limitations or burdens on your daily living; otherwise, you’re just setting a goal that can’t be attained, which can bring additional stress and anxiety.
Keep reading for some great tips on how to plan for your financial future.
Have “The Talk”
If you’re married or live with your partner, it’s important to sit down and have a talk about your goals and get on the same page where your finances are concerned. Many couples don’t do this and end up creating issues when a big life event comes up, such as buying a home or new car. Talk about where you see yourselves in the next few years and the best ways to make that happen, such as opening up a savings account for your child’s college tuition or building up your credit to buy a home.
Calculate Your Assets
Figuring out your assets is just as important as figuring out how much debt you owe, as it will allow you to get a good handle on exactly where you stand and where the next five years will take you. If you’re a homeowner, one of the easiest ways to start figuring out your assets is to find out how much your home is worth, since your house is likely the most expensive investment you have. Find out how to figure out your home’s value and you’ll have a better understanding of what you’re worth.
Work Out a Budget
A realistic budget will not only factor in the big things you spend on, such as the mortgage, daycare expenses, and car payment and insurance; it will also take into account your family’s needs over a given period. If you’re making out a budget for the summer months, think about where your family will be during that time. If your kids will be home every day, your grocery and utility bills will go up. In August or September, you’ll need to work in money for new school clothes and supplies. Sit down and create a budget from month to month, remembering that your expenses will fluctuate.
Learn to Save
Saving money isn’t easy for most people, so it’s important to go about it in a strategic way. Look at what your needs will be in the next few years and scour your budget for ways to save. You might start carpooling to save money on gas, use energy-efficient light bulbs and shower heads, or start taking your lunch to work every day rather than eating out once or twice a week. Every little bit helps!
Financial planning can be a stressful undertaking, especially if you are a new parent or have a child with medical needs. Coming up with a good strategy to start saving, building credit, and paying off debt will go a long way toward helping you feel better about your future.