With uncertainty across the economy, there has never been a better time to take control of your financial situation. Taking control means making the smart money moves you know you should check off but never get around to.
We’re getting rid of the guesswork to make things easier, compiling the top smart money moves that will make a difference for your immediate cash needs (groceries, bills, gas, debts) and your financial future. It’s all here, from budgeting to retirement planning - all made practical to take action steps right now.
Let’s jump right into the list and give you the roadmap to better financial health, along with income-boosting incentives and rewards to put more cash in your hands.
Here are the basics of money management you should master. These ideas are about managing your savings and the income from paychecks in the near and medium terms.
After all, the essence of financial health is about making the most of every dollar that comes your way. There’s a reason why lottery winners and inheriters end up broke again - they don’t have money management skills.
When managing your money, the more you have, the better. So, as an additional tip, you'll want to discover short-term opportunities to earn more.
That's where Steady helps. You can identify immediate opportunities to make more and even find other companies that pay more. Steady can also earn you income-boosting cash, manage your income, and set up your goals for future earnings.
It’s not that hard to create a budget - the challenge is following through and sticking to the program every day. However, you will be rewarded in many ways if you stay on track with the personal finances you set, and we view this as the foundation of financial health for everybody.
A monthly budget for living expenses makes the most sense for most of us since bills like rent, mortgages, car payments, and various utilities are paid monthly.
Start by determining exactly how much money you have coming in each month (after taxes).
Like many Americans, your income may vary depending on overtime or how much time you spend on side gigs. Find a reasonable average and allow some breathing room to make a safe budget for yourself.
Remember, budgeting isn’t about depriving yourself of things you enjoy in life! There are ways to make your money go further and still have fun.
Besides, once you establish a budget and make it the status quo, you’ll experience peace of mind and security that you won’t want to give up for short-term thrills.
We all know that you must pay your bills and save money. But what does a real, practical budget look like for someone in the modern world?
Like so many financial experts have pointed out, the 50-30-20 budget rule is the perfect place to start:
Financial health makes way more sense with the 50-30-20 rule guiding your budget! You can use apps that map out your budget in real terms so that you leave nothing to chance.
This rule also helps you make sense of larger investments and financial decisions moving forward, whether placing a down payment on a car, going back to school for a degree, or planning that family vacation you’ve always dreamed of.
Sometimes our ends don't seem to want to meet. It's not that you didn't budget correctly; you followed the 50-30-20 rule to the best of your ability, but your income and expenses still won't balance.
Fortunately, Steady can support you here, helping you locate additional cash opportunities to make sure you stay on top of things. Steady also offers tools for unexpected or immediate expenses. It even provides you with a checking account that pays you two days early, so you won’t stress when something urgent develops before payday.
Retirement might seem like a long way away, but you should start preparing early. The sooner you start your retirement savings, the better positioned you’ll be to enjoy those golden years with less stress and more security.
Thankfully, starting that retirement account with just a few swipes and taps on your smartphone or PC has never been easier. If you use Steady to sign up for a broker, cash bonuses are waiting for you that can help cover some short-term expenses.
We won’t dive into the details of investing here, but just remember that compound interest works to your advantage, and there are tax incentives that make retirement planning a smart money move.
Don’t fret if your credit score isn’t quite where you want it to be. The average American credit score is well below 700, and that number has fallen after two or more years of financial uncertainty.
However, we know exactly what factors determine a credit score, so there’s no mystery, and you can take meaningful steps towards a stronger score.
Follow these guidelines and a structured budget, and you’ll slowly watch that credit report score creep up over the coming months and years. A higher credit score will open up new opportunities and allow you to take full advantage of credit products from lenders without the downsides.
A shocking statistic was revealed in recent years - according to CNBC, almost 60% of Americans would not be able to cover an unexpected expense of $1,000 without their bank account going into the red.
This statistic should be a wake-up call to anyone who hasn’t yet set aside cash as emergency savings, whether it’s a vehicle repair, a night in the hospital, or property damage that isn’t covered by insurance.
We suggest trying to get $1000 in a separate emergency account ASAP and then building towards $3000. Steady Income Boosters can start putting extra cash into that emergency account quicker, giving you a head start and much needed momentum.
In addition to other tools, Steady equips you with a checking account that pays you two days ahead of schedule, which can be extremely useful in a crunch.
With loans hanging over your head, it can be hard to see your financial future clearly. We recommend chipping away at those high-interest loans first since that will make the biggest long-term financial impact.
Organizing all your credit obligations can seem overwhelming, but prioritizing the most important ones can help you get a grip on your situation.
This method is how high net-worth individuals tackle debt; you should take the same approach. Sometimes, the smart money move is simply avoiding penalties and pitfalls, and that’s a lesson we all need to learn.
We all need a bit of motivation to keep working towards our goals. Just saving money for the sake of having more (beyond emergency and retirement funding) will not give you that lasting drive you need to succeed.
Therefore, we urge you to set savings goals for yourself in the short, medium, and long terms - the more specific, the better. Maybe you want to have $5,000 in your savings account by the end of the year for a down payment on a new car or $10,000 saved by next Spring to upgrade apartments.
Whatever the case, when you picture your goals in a real, tangible way, you’ll get the motivational fuel needed to stick with your smart money game plan, day in and day out.
Even the most disciplined, hard-working people need to have some fun now and then. A night out with friends or a weekend getaway can be exactly what you need to blow off steam, recharge your batteries, and stay focused on the road ahead.
The best part is that when you budget for fun, you won’t have the guilt or uncertainty that most people experience when trying to enjoy themselves. Including a budget for entertainment is how you live your best life while staying within your financial boundaries and finding true balance.
Money management isn’t taught in schools, and not all parents give us the lessons we need on this crucial subject. Many of us are on our own to figure out how to manage our finances - which explains why more than half of Americans struggle with debt and aren’t prepared for emergencies.
Financial well-being isn’t an unattainable goal. It doesn’t require an advanced degree, a personal accounting team, or an unsustainable iron discipline.
It requires just a few pieces of knowledge and a game plan that you can start implementing right now. It’s not enough to know about smart money moves - you need to make them; the sooner, the better.
This article is the perfect launchpad to send you in the right direction for budgeting, retirement planning, emergency funding, and much more. Plus, with Steady's Income Boosters and other useful income features, you can build that bankroll year over year - which is always a good thing!
The financial health you’ve been seeking is within reach, so bookmark this article, put the plan into action, and reap the rewards for years to come.
Your Guide to How to Budget Money | NerdWallet
Just 39% of Americans could pay for a $1,000 emergency expense | CNBC