7 Steps to Take Control of Your Financial Future Today

August 2023

National Financial Awareness Day is Sunday, August 13th. Whether you’re just starting your financial journey or looking to fine-tune your strategies, now is the perfect time to reflect on your goals and make informed decisions for a brighter future.

Here are seven steps you can take today to help you on your path to financial success:

1. Check on your retirement savings.

Work on building a secure retirement fund by taking charge of your 401(k), 403(b), or Individual Retirement Account (IRA). Check on the status of your account to see if you are on track to meet your goals. Boost your contribution rate to make the most of your retirement savings and take full advantage of your employer’s matching contribution, if offered. Update your investment mix and rebalance your portfolio based on your retirement timeline and risk tolerance. If you need help along the way, your plan advisor is there to offer support and personalized advice that fits your situation.

Related: The Essential 401(k)/403(b) Toolkit

2. Pay Yourself First

Enhance your financial well-being with a simple yet effective approach: pay yourself first. Whether you’re saving for a big purchase or building an emergency fund, create a savings account specifically for this purpose to easily track your progress towards your goal. Decide how much you want to save from each paycheck and move that amount into your savings account on every payday (most banks offer an online tool to automate this transfer, which makes paying yourself first effortless).

Related: A Guide to Prioritizing Where You Save

3. Build a budget and explore small ways to cut costs.

Craft a budget that’s realistic for you by following the 50-30-20 rule to determine where to allocate your monthly income: 50% towards necessities like rent and debt repayment, 30% towards wants, and 20% towards savings. Try user-friendly budgeting apps and online tools to track your spending habits and identify areas where you might be overspending. Trim costs by canceling unused subscriptions, mindfully turning off lights to reduce your electric bill, and choosing store brands over expensive name brands. Make your coffee at home and bring lunch to work – these small changes can add up to big savings over time.

Related: Budgeting and Debt 101 – Giving Every Dollar a Job

4. Educate yourself on investing.

You work hard for your money, make sure your money works hard for you! Empower yourself with investment knowledge that paves the way for a secure financial future. Embrace the convenience of investment apps designed to automate even the tiniest contributions. Tailor your investment strategy by evaluating your risk tolerance and your desired investment horizon. Uncover invaluable insights in our Investing 201 webinar, guiding you through the essentials of making your money work for you.

Related: Investing 201: Comparing Investments

5. Check your credit score.

Monitor and increase your credit score for improved financial health. Boost your creditworthiness by following these steps: always pay your bills on time; avoid using more than 30% of your credit limit; pay off your balance in full each month; and stick to a budget that aligns with what you can comfortably afford. By adopting these smart practices, you’ll be on your way to a better credit rating, paving the way for better loan terms and broader financial possibilities.

Related: How to Manage Your Personal Finance, Month by Month

6. Tackle student loans and other debt.

Paying off debt requires a strategic approach to regain financial freedom. Begin by comprehensively assessing your outstanding loans and debts, noting interest rates and repayment terms. Build a repayment plan that aligns with your budget, prioritizing higher-interest debts while meeting at least minimum payments on others. Investigate loan consolidation or refinancing options to potentially reduce interest rates. Stay committed to disciplined payments and consider allocating windfalls, such as tax refunds, to expedite debt reduction. By tackling these financial obligations with methodical determination, you pave the way to a debt-free future and improved financial stability.

Related: Student Loan Debt – Managing and Mitigating your Debt

7. Work with a financial advisor.

Consider working with a seasoned financial advisor who can help you create a tailored strategy aligned with your financial goals. Whether it’s securing your retirement, optimizing investments, or managing debts, their expertise can guide you towards optimal decisions and give you peace of mind. At Lebel & Harriman Retirement Advisors, we stand ready to assist you on this journey. Reach out today to schedule a confidential consultation and embark on a path toward achieving your financial objectives.

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