There’s more to becoming financially stable than boosting your income or growing wealth. Especially with bumps in the road like lifestyle creep and inflation, it can be easy to find yourself in a constant battle to stay financially afloat. We did some digging to figure out what it really takes to become financially stable, for good.
Can you tell me how to become financially stable?
No matter how much (or little) you have in the bank, there are a few steps you can take to get your finances on track.
Be clear on your money goals
Financial stability looks different for everyone, because it all depends on what you want to achieve. For some, the goal is saving enough for early retirement. For others, escaping the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle is more pertinent. And while a lot of people might try to convince you that home ownership is the ultimate money goal, that isn’t necessarily true for everyone.
Before you move on to next steps, experts recommend figuring out exactly what financial stability means to you — and that means really thinking about how you want your future to look.
Create or revisit your budget
If you don’t have a budget, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll overspend because you aren’t tracking where your money is going. There are tons of different ways to make one, so it helps to set aside some time to find a budget that you can stick to long term. Or, make sure that the budget you’ve been following works for you and your goals. You might be pleasantly surprised if you don’t need to make many adjustments to it. Don’t know where to start? Here’s a template.
Boost your savings
If you really want financial stability, it’s time to get serious about saving. If that doesn’t exactly match your money language, try a savings challenge to make it fun. Use your new budget to determine how much you’d need to put into your savings account to reach your goals.
Before aiming for those big (or small) goals, experts recommend having at least three months’ worth of living expenses saved in case of an emergency (like a layoff or car repair).
Whether you go with the avalanche method, snowball method, or a balance transfer, you’ll need a strategy for getting rid of bad debt to maintain your financial stability. Over time, skipping out on high-interest debt like credit cards and loan balances can cause your savings to slowly vanish, putting you further behind on reaching financial stability. Not to mention how damaging it can be to your credit score. Which brings us to…
Watch your credit score
Make sure your credit score stays in good shape — even if your version of financial stability doesn’t look like buying a new car or house. A good credit score can come in handy for the times when you’d rather not tap into your savings and take out a loan for something instead. You’ll also want to check regularly to make sure you don’t come across any credit report errors. If you do, notify the credit bureaus ASAP.
There’s no one definition of financially stable. What’s most important is giving yourself time to figure out what will give you peace of mind when it comes to your money and taking small, consistent steps in the right direction.
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