We are all facing challenging times. Many people today are concerned about the best way to care for their families. We struggle with self-doubt about decisions that may impact health, concerns about the stability of employment, and insecurity about access to money to pay the bills. Each individual and family is different and so are their needs.
I have learned through experience that there are many different and appropriate solutions to meeting those challenges and to solving such dilemmas. Financial decisions, as with many other decisions in life, are usually not about one single choice, but about a commitment to continue to make consistent, incremental choices toward the desired direction. Creating good financial habits, while avoiding known disastrous mistakes, is generally more impactful than any super-de-duper financial tip.
Save when you can
If you can, save some money; even if it is a small amount. It is more about the habit, rather than the amount. It is important to know that every family goes through periods of time when putting money aside is not possible — and that is ok! The goal is to get through that period and begin to save again. Understanding the importance of saving and knowing what is in your budget, or normal spending, is much more valuable. This knowledge will allow you to realize when your finances begin to recover, and you can resume your original saving strategy.
Debt is a tool, use it wisely
Debt is a part of everyone’s financial picture. Debt is an important tool that can be used to help you get through hard times. Debt is also a tool that you can use when everything is going great – such as a home mortgage. Just like any other tool, the key is to make smart choices when choosing how to use it and how best to pay it off. Controlling your spending, reviewing your budget, and making wise, consistent choices is the way to get out of debt or successfully manage your debt as a planned part of your finances.
Ask for help when you need it
Not everyone has the exact same financial circumstances or questions that can be found in your favorite FAQs. Therefore, the commonly quoted answers may not be helpful for your unique situation. Additonally, not everyone has the specific knowledge or expertise to know if the answer they have found is truly sufficient to solve their individual financial question or need. If you are unsure, ask! Everyone’s financial education must start somewhere. Be sure to find a trusted financial professional to ask and improve your understanding of your financial situation. I know that asking or admitting that you may not have answers is sometimes scary. However, making costly financial mistakes is worse. Remember this is your financial life. You owe it to yourself and your family to be informed and to make the most informed decisions you can to increase your sense of financial security now and in the future.
Jennifer Shulman, MBA, CDMM® is the Owner and Principal of Simply Balanced Solutions, LLC. Jennifer earned her bachelor’s degree in Accounting from the Fisher School of Accounting at the University of Florida and her MBA from Saint Leo’s University.