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One of the big factors in life that can zap your happiness is financial stress. It is true that the economy is tough, but that isn’t an excuse to be being on bills an owing lot of debt. Take responsibility so that you are able to feel good about your financial situation.
If you have the mindset that more money would solve your issues, you are wrong. It is true that you should strive to live above the poverty level. Yet financial comfort isn’t going to equate to more happiness. For many individuals, it can mean less free time and more stress.
Love your Career
The number of hours and years that the average person spends working in their lifetime is really high. Therefore, you need to love your career if you are going to be happy. Don’t take a career you hate just to make more money. Of course, it is important to make sure you have a job that will pay the bills!
Some people get a job and they stay with it for decades. They continue to move up the ladder and they do very well. There are jobs that are a good starting point, but they aren’t going to move upward. Don’t get trapped in a dead-end job. It is never too late to expand your knowledge. Look for a new job, learn a new skill, or even go back to college to earn a degree.
In order to get your finances under control, you need to take a good inventory of your spending. Make a list of all of your monthly bills. This should include:
Car Payments/Leasing/Public Transportation
Next, make a list of all of your variable expenses. These are unsecured debt items that you can pay off. This should include:
Make a list of all of your income and compare it to your expenses. This is what you have leftover each month. With your variable expenses, do what you can to pay more than the minimum each month so you pay it off quicker and reduce overall interest.
Plan of Action
If your budget seems out of control, get help. There are many financial entities that will help you to budget without any charge. They have budgeting classes that help you to get back on track. If you have a significant other, the plan of action for finances should be done as a team. Create goals that you both work towards and re-evaluate your plan regularly.
If your expenses are far more than your income, it is time to make some changes. Can you get a second job to supplement the income and pay down debt? Can you work from home in your free time to generate more money for the household? Perhaps you need to move to a lower-priced residence or you need to trade in your car for one that is more affordable.
If you owe a significant amount of unsecured debt, talk to them about lowering your interest or a payoff. If you provide a lump sum of cash for the account they may significantly lower the dollar amount that you owe in order to successfully erase that debt.
It is best to avoid consolidation lenders as they often have high fees and your credit score can suffer in the end. You also want to avoid filing bankruptcy unless it is absolutely necessary.
In addition to paying your monthly bills, you should also be paying yourself. Allocate a percentage of your income or a set dollar amount for savings. This is important so that you can have money in place for emergencies. Then you won’t have to use a credit card or revolving credit should there be an emergency. When you use the money you have saved, you don’t have that interest to think about.
Preparing for the future is also very important. Retirement may seem like a long time from now, but it will arrive. Being prepared for it is very important and you need to start as early as you can.
If your employer has retirement plans such as 401k, contribute the maximum that you can. If your employer doesn’t offer this, you should talk to a retirement advisor. They can help you to get accounts set up. If you change from one job to the next, rollover your retirement plan instead of cashing it out.
You should diversify your portfolio so that you have retirement funds spread out. This will help you to avoid a huge loss should any certain investment not do very well. The level of risk you take with your retirement is also important to think about. The closer you get to retirement, the less risk you should be with those funds.