5 Smart Money Habits To (Finally) Nail This Decade
posted on July 22, 2018 | by Chelsea Becker
I’ll be the first to admit that my 20s were a shit show financially. I racked up 6K in debt one summer attending weddings, I’d live paycheck to paycheck, I paid way too much for rent, and my savings account was non-existent. I had a great job, but I simply sucked at smart money habits. For my 28th birthday, I made it my goal to get my life together financially by making a lot of small changes – which really turned things around.
Now, as a 31-year-old, I actually feel pretty confident about it. Here are some (basic) things I’ve picked up, heard about from my money-savvy dad, and even my financial advisor. And for the record, I’m anything but a pro here. These are just simple things that have helped me to feel good in my 30s.
If you aren’t auto transferring 10-20% of your income from work into your savings, I’d recommend starting. It’s easier than manually transferring it yourself (because let’s be honest, we’ll all find something we “need” to buy with that cash). I totally forget about this money, and yet my savings is consistently building. It’s fine if you need to start with a smaller percentage, but make it your goal to have it transfer without it impacting what you need for the month.
My husband and I will go on “saving binges”…usually after a spending one. We’ll pick a month where we aren’t traveling and will decide to go hard when it comes to saving. This means no shopping (except for necessities), making food at home, not renting movies, and basically being strict with our cash. It’s actually amazing what you can NOT spend when you’re conscious. And for us, it’s easier to save in small, intense doses – and it doesn’t feel like you’re changing your life forever.
Think outside the 401K box
If you’re already maxing out at what you can contribute to your 401K, awesome job! But don’t stop there. I’ve recently learned about a ROTH IRA and that investing is actually a cool way to make more money – and save. Bottom line, you want your savings in more than just a basic savings account, and this can go beyond a 401K. I’d call your accountant (or even do some research yourself) to see what makes the most sense for you. Just don’t tap out at your 401K max if you can put any more elsewhere!
Do quarterly assessments
I’m really bad at paying for things and then forgetting about it. Whether that’s a subscription box, a new monthly gym membership, or forgetting about a “free” trial. Safe to say, we all waste money each month without even realizing it. This is why I’ve started doing quarterly assessments of my spending. I’ll go in and cancel memberships and basically clean things up. This is also great for checking overall spending and getting a gauge on where my money’s going.
Use a credit card that fits your lifestyle
There are TONS of different credit card options, and if you’re like me, your first one was basically whatever your bank was offering. For me, that one was giving me points for an airline that I rarely flew, and I didn’t realize what a waste that was until recently. I ended up canceling that card (in a way that didn’t hurt my credit) and going with one that gave me points towards more general travel and hotels. I suggest checking out different options and opening one that fits your lifestyle so that your money goes further.
And that’s it! My very fancy smart money tricks. Hope they were helpful – and be sure to share yours! What’s one thing you’ve done in your 30s to get your money in shape?