As a young, single man, I often found it difficult to get my finances in order. However, when I started these habits and practices, things suddenly got easier. I knew where my money was coming from, what bills were due and when, and exactly how much I had. I even had extra. As I regularly made these habits a part of my daily, weekly and monthly routines, I found great mental and emotional peace.
Following are five habits I see for a stable, secure financial picture. As my new wife and I have engaged in and communicated about these five things, we've found it has strengthened our marriage.
1. Track your expenses and budget your bills
I can't stress how important this is. As you spend money, write it down. I sit down at the end of every day and enter all mine and my wife's expenses. I then check to see what bills are due that day on our shared calendar, and check them off.
I've created my own system for doing this using a Google Drive (particularly Google Sheets and Google Calendar) and I've shared it with my wife so she has access to it any time she wants to see where we stand.
If you don't have this kind of time, I recommend using a money management app, such as Mint.
2. Save a minimum of 10 percent from each paycheck
No matter how much debt you do or don't have, saving is essential for a rainy day. Earlier this year, the Washington Post published an article noting that Allgov found that almost half of America can't handle a $400 unexpected expense. This is largely due to the mindset that personal debt must be paid first.
My experience, however, is that you should save first;_ and this should be done without exception. You'll quickly notice how fast your savings account grows.
More importantly, you need to start investing — right now. Many young people think they don't have the money to do this, or that if they need the money it would be unattainable. Neither of these things is true. There are plenty of avenues to start growing your money right now that are not too risky, and work well for young people who don't have a lot to start with.
Investing is also important because it helps you overcome inflation. If you keep your money in a simple savings account, you'll be lucky to get 0.03 percent return. Many investments yeild a much higher return, some as much as 11-12 percent.
3. Obtain the proper insurances and put a will in place
Whether or not you have children, both life insurance and long-term disability insurance are necessary to protect your income and earning power.
Consider these two facts: 1) Everyone will die, and we don't know when. 2) One in four 20-year-olds will become disabled at some point in their working lives, limiting or perhaps eliminating their ability to earn income for themselves and their families.
Having income in the event of a death or disability will greatly reduce stress on your family, and can prevent uncomfortable circumstances, such as your possesions and money going into probate. A will and living will can portray how your money will be used in the event of one of these circumstances.
Life insurance can ensure all your debts are canceled and that your family has income to provide for funeral expenses and their living expenses for anywhere from 10 to 30 years. Disability will provide you the ability to meet your obligations as you live but can no longer work.
4. Meet with a financial advisor
If you're like most of us, concepts like these can be confusing and give you a headache. A trained, licensed financial advisor can help you more easily understand what steps you need to take to become financially awesome.
I seriously recommend staying away from financial "entertainers," or popular finance TV/Radio personalities who give advice. These people tend to tell everyone to use the same strategy and products.
Every situation is different, and an adviser who specializes in your position of life is the best option. They also have the proper licenses to sell you the insurances and investment tools that will best help you get to a stable, strong position.
If you're not sure where to start, interview several advisors, or ask people you trust for recommendations.
5. Create multiple income streams.
Things like AirBNB, starting a side business, freelance writing, or even picking up a second job are great ways to supplement your income. There is opportunity everywhere you look to make a little extra cash.
As you save a little more, consider buying real estate with the intent of renting the properties. This will create regular, reliable income that will be easy to count on as part of your monthly flow. Hire a property manager, and pay them from the budget of this stream; it will eliminate the need for you to be the one constantly maintaining the property.
My wife and I currently have four streams of income between the two of us (We have personally decided to stay away from multi-level marketing, because of the time that's required in the beginning to make it work, and we have both had awful experiences in such encounters).
While this may seem daunting right now, I can promise this has worked in my life and has strengthened my marriage. Try following these steps to create a happy, stable marriage based on honest financial habits that will enable you and your spouse to be your very best selves in this very essential part of married life.