Feeling Financially Insecure? 10 Money Moves To Get Back on Track

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MarketWatch recently reported that 72% of Americans do not feel completely financially secure due to things like inflation, high rent, rising interest rates, too much debt and not enough retirement savings or emergency savings. Additionally, 26% of respondents do not expect to ever feel financially secure. Survey respondents said they would need to earn $233,000 per year to feel financially secure, but their average salary is only $75,000.

If you’re in the same boat of feeling financially insecure, here are 10 money moves from financial experts to help you get back on track

Start Budgeting

Although you might already be doing this, James Allen — CPA, CFP and founder of Billpin — said the first step to financial stability is creating a budget.

“It’s like a financial GPS, guiding you to your destination,” he said. “The 50/30/20 rule is a good starting point, allocating 50% of your income to needs, 30% to wants and 20% to savings. It’s like a diet for your wallet — you need to know what’s coming in and what’s going out to maintain a healthy balance.”

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Embrace a Spending Fast

“Consider a ‘spending fast,’ also known as a no-spend period,” said personal savings guru Mary Hines Droesch, head of consumer and small business products at Bank of America. “This technique allows you to control and understand your spending by cutting off any non-essential purchases for a specified length of time — a week, month, etc.

“Although it might seem daunting, think of it as putting your spending on an elimination diet to see what you truly need and what you can live without. It’s an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of your spending patterns and develop a healthier relationship with money.”

Set Goals

Sean Fox, president of debt resolutions at Achieve, said it’s easy to become overwhelmed by inflation, rising interest rates, debt and lack of savings, making it seem like the perfect financial storm.

“Set a cornerstone with establishing goals, with family and/or spouse/partner as applicable, to know where you want to go — i.e., what you really want to do in your life,” he said. “These goals, both short and long term, will modify throughout life, but will guide finances, up confidence and ease stress. Goals might include everything from buying a new appliance to taking a vacation, buying a car or house, retirement and even having the time to pursue a favorite hobby.”

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Make Savings Automatic

“From your budget,” Fox said, “determine what you can save each week or month. It might be very small, but that’s OK; start somewhere and build. Then set up automated savings with your employer — many let you specify an amount to deposit into a savings account with each check — or directly with your bank or credit union — transfer from a checking account to a savings account. Saving even $50 a month will give you $600 in a year — enough to avoid reaching for the credit card when an unexpected expense comes up.”

Contribute to Employer-Sponsored Retirement Plans

“If you work for a company that offers any type of retirement savings plan, try very hard to contribute to this, at least somewhat, while taking care of debts and building at least some emergency savings,” recommended Fox. “Moreover, if your employer matches any part of your contributions, it’s additional savings to you — at no additional cost.”

Understand Options To Deal With Debt

“If you do have debt, use the budget and decide if you can pay it off on your own using the avalanche or snowball method,” Fox said.

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“Otherwise, a personal loan may help to consolidate and pay off debt. For those with very good credit, a balance transfer to a low- or zero-interest credit card may help. Credit counseling firms offer debt management plans to offer slightly lower interest rates on credit cards. Finally, consumers who have suffered a real financial hardship and cannot make minimum payments can look into debt settlement. The American Fair Credit Council is one resource to learn and find out about debt settlement and credible providers.”

Negotiate Your Rent

“It’s not tried and true, but see if your landlord would be willing to lock in your current rent amount if you sign a longer lease,” said Dr. Kate Mielitz, AFC program manager at Beyond Finance. “If you are a good tenant that always pays on time, you should be able to use that as evidence that they should provide this benefit to you.”

Generate Additional Income 

“For someone who has debt, who is concerned about lack of retirement savings and who is — justifiably — worried about inflation, the reality is that they really may not have enough income to deal with everything,” said Fox.

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“Many people in this situation today are taking advantage of the high rates businesses are often paying part-time employees. Others are leveraging the gig economy and earning more money by doing anything from pet or lawn care to tutoring to consulting. It’s not for everyone, and it’s not easy, but when there’s truly a lack of income, there’s no magic bullet.”

Read, Listen and Watch

“Websites, online publications, magazines, books, radio and TV programs offering good information abound,” Fox said. “Select one or two credible, reputable sources, and pay attention. You’ll start to find common threads of information and common, standard advice.”

Have Patience With Yourself

Maya Sudhakaran, head of growth and acquisition at Plynk, said that if you find yourself getting off track with your finances, you should try not to dwell on it because everyone experiences it at one time or another. Instead, she said to acknowledge it, reflect on it and set your sights on what you can do tomorrow, next week or next month to further your financial goals.

“What matters more in the long run isn’t that you missed a milestone or delayed making moves, but that you started in the first place,” she said. “Try to get back on track as soon as you can, because any progress, no matter how small, can add up over time to create [a] big impact.”

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