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Financial Wellness and You

There is much emphasis upon wellness today. This term covers the improvement of your overall condition such as mental, environmental, intellectual, emotional, physical, occupational and financial among others. This article covers a few major aspects that can lead to your financial wellness.

1. Live within your means – this of course, makes sense, but you will be surprised to know that one in every five Americans spend at least 20 percent more than they earn. This is where plastic money, loans and payday checks come in handy; and this is the way that leads straight to bankruptcy. You need to aim to live within 80-90 percent of your income. Use the rest for savings and investments.

2. Pay the credit card bills first – the debts that you incur by using credit cards is the one you pay the highest interest for; hence, you need to pay these bills first and in full. Do not get caught in the trap of paying only the minimum due. You will be charged compounded interest on the outstanding, which will grow at an alarming rate.

3. Ensure you have your own safety net – disasters happen. You lose your job, you fall sick, you meet with an accident, you have a death in the family and so on. Bad things happen. Ensure that you have stashed away an amount that will keep you comfortable for at least six months. Ideally, your safety net should cover you and your family for 12-18 months.

4. Learn to invest - and do so – saving and investment should go hand in hand. Do not let your money lay around in a low interest bank account. If you are not financially savvy, seek professional counsel and make low risk investments so your money will grow over time.

5. Health insurance is vital – everyone becomes sick one time or another. Sometimes, the illness is minor and sometimes it is major, requiring intensive care and hospitalization. It is always good to have you and your family covered for such eventualities. This is not a case where you should act thrifty! Good health insurance can make your life very easy, when the time comes.

6. Have a will drawn – many complications will be spared if everybody decides to leave a will behind. Your family should know all about your monies and division of your property through a will. This will also give you immense peace of mind.

7. Put a budget into place – plan all expenses, big and small. Do not indebt yourself to the maximum possible extent, because often things do not go as expected and too large a debt burden can be a horrible liability during an unforeseen financial crisis. Make it a solemn point to stay within your budget always. In order to stay cool on this aspect, you need to budget for ‘fun’ expenses – but these should not be more than 5-10 percent of your total monthly expenses.

8. Charity is important – financial wellness does not come by looking exclusively at yourself. It is important that you give 10 percent (or at least 5 percent) to charity. The fact that you are able to do your humble bit towards helping the underprivileged will give a wonderful feeling.

9. Value for money is paramount – do not re-decorate your home just because your neighbors did it. Keep the competitive spirit at the intellectual level. Do not give in to "keeping up with Joneses" and aiming to always buy one grade better than your neighbor. Spend only when you are convinced that you get full value for your money.

10. Continue to improve yourself – it doesn't matter what level you've reached in your career or business. There is always something more to learn and you should use every opportunity that comes along to advance your skills and intellectual capacity. The better qualified and experienced you are, the better you will do financially. In addition, the better you will feel about yourself and about your life!

Look at these 10 points. Each one of them is easy to follow. Together, they can induce finance wellness for you. Are you ready to be comfortable with finances?

 

Get the Better of Your Debt

In the USA, debt is a huge problem – yet people wake up to it only when bankruptcy is at their door. Did you know that about 1.6 million people filed for bankruptcy in 2004 according to cnnmoney.com? This happens because most people live with the philosophy that “I will deal with it when the time comes.” Unfortunately, "when the time comes" will often be too late to deal with it. This is why it's so important that you work hard to master your debt as early as possible.

Five Steps to Master Your Debt

1. Be realistic

Mastering your debt does not mean you don't have any debts. It's very difficult in today’s world to live without debt. However, when you plan to buy on loan, be careful about your payment capacity. The total debt should never exceed 50 percent of your total income. The best ratio should actually be limited to one third. In case you need many things and have limited income, set a clear cut priority list and go about it systematically.

2. Budget

You can never be in control of your money unless you budget your expenses. Ensure that you budget both for monthly expenses as well as long-drawn ones such as a home mortgage. Just drawing a budget will not help you much. Once you have it on paper, you will have to make all possible efforts to stick to it. Allow for a deviation of 5 percent for any impulsive shopping or the like.

3. Downsize

Run over your budget over the past 3 - 4 months and watch out for expenses that add up to huge amounts, but seem inconsequential at the moment. This could be eating out with friends, buying coffee, partying off and on, and the like. Cut out all expenses that are frivolous and watch your buying power grow! Look for value for your money in everything you buy, all the time. This is a habit that will come in handy over time.

4. Value for money

We just spoke about value for money, right? You will be saving for a rainy day and most people will have a neat sum stashed away for emergencies. At the same time, you will pay high interest on your loans for major purchases such as car, credit cards expenses and so on. In order to get the best out of your money, either invest it in high return - low risk investments, or use it to pay off your high interest debts. Keep the large picture in view at all times. Do not loose money on high interest debts, while you save your money in low-interest paying saving accounts.

5. Increase your earning capacity

Do not rest on your laurels. Always look for ways to increase your income. Learn new skills, start a new enterprise, look for a better paying job and so on. One of the best ways to lower your debts is by increasing your buying power. Always look for ways to enhance your income and at the same time maintain your debt to income ratio at less than 50 percent.

These five steps are easy and can be followed by anyone without much effort. However, in case you feel you are overwhelmed by your financial situation, get help as soon as possible. Look for organizations that are reputed and listed with regulatory bodies such as the Better Business Bureau or ECRA (Ethical Credit Repair Alliance).


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quote of the day
Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend.

Theophrastus (372 BC - 287 BC), from Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers
 
 
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