If you’re handling your finances well, there will be signs. Likewise, if you’re hemorrhaging money, there will be red flags – maybe more glaring in retrospect. Check out this slideshow for signs you’re on the right financial track (and three signs you need to correct course right away).
Table of Contents
1. You Have a Budget
This is really the first and most important step to improving your financial health. You can’t get better if you don’t know where you stand. Whether you write it in a notebook or use a spreadsheet program on your computer, just start keeping track if you’re not already.
2. You Have an Emergency Fund
A great number of Americans are at risk of financial ruin from one accident or job loss. You should set aside at least $1,000 and as much as three months’ income for emergencies. If you’ve already done this, you’re a smart cookie.
3. You Pay Your Bills on Time
Preventing late fees and keeping track of due dates is crucial to financial health. Paying your rent and utilities on time also helps improve your credit score. It also keeps you from getting annoying and stressful calls and mail from bill collectors.
4. You Have a Savings Account and Put Money in It Every Month
Like an emergency fund, saving is an important part of financial health. No matter how much or how little you set aside, having the foresight to save is a good sign.
5. You Use Apps to Help You Stay on Track
There are quite a few financial apps like Mint that can help you track your spending, budget, and set goals. These can even be free, meaning you don’t have to spend anything to help get your finances on track.
6. You Don’t Have Credit Card Debt
Having a credit history is important, but just as important is ensuring you pay your credit cards off in a timely fashion. You don’t want to get hit with interest or get a ding to your credit score by forgetting to pay on time.
7. You Avoid Fees
Whether it’s convenience fees for paying bills or ATM fees, plan ahead and prevent these unnecessary charges that eat away at your financial progress. Those with a good handle on their finances will know where to get cash without getting charged.
8. You Have Financial Goals
Everyone’s goals are different, but having them is a really important part of keeping on top of your finances. Even if your goal is just to chip away at medical debt, it’s something you’re being thoughtful about it and moving toward.
9. You Plan Ahead
You know your car’s license plate has to be renewed in October, so go ahead and start setting aside that money so the rug doesn’t get yanked out from under you. (And avoid pricey tickets for expired plates!)
And Three Signs You’re Headed for Financial Trouble
Of course, there are some sure signs you’re going to go broke if these are actions you find yourself doing regularly. We’re not saying if you do this behavior every once and a while, you’re heading for bankruptcy, but you certainly want to keep the following three behaviors to a minimum.
1. You Let Impulses Drive Your Spending
We all have weaknesses, whether it’s a warm chocolate chip cookie from the bakery down the street or the latest video game release. But if you’re letting your impulses take over instead of having restraint, you’ll soon be surprised by the low amount in your checking account. It doesn’t have to be every time, but if you didn’t budget for it, you should probably say “no” to the voice in your head saying, “I want it!”
2. You’re Not Planning for Retirement
Unfortunately, that’s a lot of people. The average millennial has about $44,000 in their 401k, according to Yahoo Finance, but they will need to save $3 to $4 million to retire comfortably. If you don’t have a plan other than “rely on your kids for help,” you’re probably going to be working until you croak.
3. All Your Eggs Are in One Basket
Take it from the folks who put everything in crypto or NFTs – if you don’t diversify your investments, you’re headed for a hard landing. Work with a financial advisor who can help you create an investment portfolio that will have varying degrees of risk – and prevent you from losing it all on a risky investment.
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