New Year’s Resolution: Get Financially Fit
January 6, 2014
Just as you need to be physically fit to enjoy a healthy life, you also need your personal finances to be fit. Here are some ideas to get your finances in shape for 2014:
1. Make a budget. Just DO it. Many people may avoid making a budget because it seems too hard or they don’t know where to start. There are many valuable resources on the web for making a budget, such as Mint or LearnVest. Additionally, CU Boulder students can make an appointment with the CU Money Sense Financial Literacy Educator; she can help you get started on a budget that easily fits your lifestyle.
2. Save, save, save. Saving money is such a good habit to start–and sooner is always better than later! As a college student, you might have family or friends that you can turn to in case of a money emergency; however, that option might not always be available. If you have any income whatsoever, try to save at least 5-10% into a savings account that is hard to access (one that’s not linked to your checking account) so you won’t dip into it for something that’s not an emergency. You should also try to save up for big purchases that you know will be upcoming, such as: textbooks, rent deposits and/or moving costs, Spring Break trip, new clothes for job interviews, etc.
3. Read one personal finance book. Part of being “financially fit” is being organized and understanding basic concepts of your finances. You might not think you have time to read another book (especially one that’s not even part of your course work), but the great thing about personal finance books is that you can take your time and read just one chapter at a time. Or you can use it as a reference tool when something relevant comes up. For example, let’s say you’re starting a new job and they offer you a 401(k), but have no idea what that means. Most personal finance books have a chapter or two on retirement savings that would define a 401(k) and also explain other retirement options.
So head to the library and check out these recommended books:
I Will Teach You to be Rich by Ramit Sethi
The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous, and Broke by Suze Orman
Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
Debt-Free U by Zac Bissonette
4. Learn to cook/prep more meals at home. Dining out is one of the biggest budget pitfalls; learning to make meals at home can really save you a lot of money. If cooking is new to you, head to the library and check out a cookbook to learn some simple recipes. There are also several cooking websites that offer video tutorials on everything from boiling water to how to cook a turkey. Plan your meals in advance, gather coupons, and grocery shop once a week. Once you learn to make a few simple meals, it won’t be hard to keep up with the habit; starting is just the hardest part.
These are just a few ideas to get you started. Some of these might be difficult to implement at first, but they are all great steps towards becoming financially fit. And as well all know, getting fit (physically or financially) takes some practice and perseverance, but the payoff will be worth it!
–Niomi Williams, Financial Literacy EducatorShare on Facebook