The PR Girl Toolbox…..
You’re ready to get your finances in order, but where do you start?
I pretty much get this question on a weekly basis and I completely understand. A little while back when during our twitter chat I said that, “looking at your credit report for the first time is like walking into a room and all of you bad financial decisions are hanging out”. It can be absolutely overwhelming. It’s especially overwhelming if you are pretty much starting from zero.
There are many different plans of action one can take, which I think are relative to your situation. While retirement is extremely important I think that establishing good financial habits and a budget is even more important.
The first thing I recommend that people do is become employed or establish a regular form of income. To accomplish your financial goals you will need… finances. Underemployed is different and can be an issue on it’s own but the important thing is to become employed so that you can take care of your necessities (rent, food, transportation, child care, etc.).
Then establish a budget. I highly recommend my friendtor (Friend +Mentor) Tiffany “The Budgetnista” Alliche book The One week Budget which you can purchase on Kindle for less than $1 here . I highly recommend this book and often refer to it myself.
For this step you should be very familiar with your credit report so that you can identify debts owed and the amounts. This will be key in determining a “get out of debt plan”. Be patient and just know that getting out of debt often takes longer than it did to get into debt, but it is more than possible.
Next begin putting away what you can afford to towards your emergency fund.When I say what you afford to that doesn’t mean only putting aside $25 a month because you have $100 on the side for your Fun Fund. Establishing an emergency fund is essential. I recall after graduating from college I was laid off from 2 jobs. One went bankrupt and the other one reorganized after coming out of bankruptcy. Job security is not what it was for our parent’s and grandparents. It is important that you are prepared for what ever may happen. The amount you put aside each month should take into account how much of your current income you will need to pay off your debts. For example, currently I put aside roughly $300 per month and hope to boost that to $500 by next year.
While you should be concerned with investing, unless your job has a matching program which would essentially mean free money, focus on getting your savings together and your debt down. One thing I’ve learned since doing this is that you will need your emergency fund before your retirement account.
Once you get a grip on the basics, then begin visiting your investment and retirement options.
Also remember, more people have issues with finances than those that don’t. I know a lot more financial messes than I know successes. Find a finance buddy and hold each other accountable. It’s so much easier when you are working with someone else to accomplish your financial goals.
These are a few quick pointers for anyone looking to get started.
There are so many other resources available on this site and on the sites of my fellow Frugal Fab 5 ladies. Browse around my site and be sure to check out theirs for other valuable information to change your finances and change your life!
Fabulous and Frugal- http://www.fabulousnfrugal.com/
And The Budgetnista- http://thebudgetnistablog.com/