No matter what age you are, there are basic money skills that will always be beneficial in your life.
From spending less than what you make to determining the best way to pay off your debt, these skills can increase your overall financial literacy and create a healthy relationship with money.
Budgeting is often considered the cornerstone of personal finance advice. Amy Maliga, financial educator at Take Charge America, said it’s never too late to get in the habit of planning and following a budget.
Creating a budget allows you to figure out how much money you have coming in every month and the source of this income. Once you know how much money is coming in, you can start tracking and figuring out your expenses. Keep an eye out for fixed expenses (expenses that stay the same every month like rent or a mortgage), variable expenses (expenses that change each month such as groceries or utilities) and periodic expenses (expenses that happen once a year like back-to-school shopping).
Tracking expenses through a budget allows you to see the areas where you may be spending too much money and where there may be opportunities for saving or investing your money. You may also strategize how you can live within your means and plan for the future with the help of a budget. Maliga said that understanding exactly how much money you have coming in, going out and where it’s going is the cornerstone of effective money management.
Wise Spending Habits
It’s never too late to learn about spending. From reducing everyday expenditures to embracing a passive saving mindset, wise spending habits are a key component of financial literacy.
Britt Williams Baker, co-founder of Dow Janes, said a money skill many underestimate is the importance of learning to spend less than what you make.
“Whether you’re 25 or 55, if you still spend more than you make each month, you’ll never be able to save. And until you start to save, you can’t do anything else — like invest, buy a house, or build wealth,” Williams Baker said.
The best way to learn how to spend less than what you make is by tracking expenses. (This shares similarities with creating and keeping a budget.) Williams Baker recommends paying attention to every dollar that comes in and out of your life. Write down your paycheck and every expense. Then, tally it up at the end of the month. Was it negative or positive?
“If you’re going into debt every month, you have to find a way to eliminate your expenses or increase your income. That’s the first step to being able to save and that’s a lesson that you need to learn at any age,” Williams Baker said.
Strategic Credit Card Usage
There are many money skills associated with credit cards that are important to learn over the course of your financial life. Some of these include what to do, and what not to do, when your credit limit increases and responsible credit card use.
Carter Seuthe, CEO of Credit Summit, said it’s never too late to learn about strategic credit card use. This is the kind of use that allows you to earn the most perks with your credit card(s) and build your credit score.
“If you have six cards, all with different perks, and you use them all equally, chances are you will not get the perks you hope for because you won’t be spending enough on specific cards to earn them. But, if you strategically use certain ones more than others, you can receive the perks you specifically want or need, like airline miles or cash back,” Seuthe said.
Paying Bills on Time
Making timely bill payments has significant implications on your budget and credit score.
If you find you struggle to make payments on time, consider setting up autopay on recurring debts. You may also look into using an app, online calendar or a paper file on your desk that helps keep track of and organize your bill payments and their deadlines.
Debt Payoff Strategies
Sometimes the most overwhelming part of paying off debt is figuring out where to start. Should you use the debt snowball or debt avalanche repayment method? Is your debt in a situation where it’s ideal to refinance or consolidate the debt? It’s never too late to start learning about different approaches to debt repayment and determining which method is the best fit for your financial situation.
If you’re unsure where to begin, consider reaching out to a financial advisor for guidance. They may be able to assist you in starting a financial plan that addresses how you can pay off debt and provide answers to questions tailored for your specific financial needs.
Ability To Negotiate
“The ability to negotiate is an important skill to master at any age,” Maliga said.
Many aspects of everyday finances — including credit card interest rates, insurance premiums and cellphone and internet rates — may be negotiated if you have the patience for and understanding of how to do it. Maliga recommends getting comfortable and willing to speak on the phone as most of the time you’ll want to speak with someone to directly negotiate together.
Saving For Retirement
It is never too early, or too late, to start saving for retirement! Baker Williams said that one misconception people have about saving for retirement is that they have to have everything saved up before they hit retirement age.
“You can keep your money invested through your retirement; you don’t have to pull it all out once you hit 65,” Baker Williams said. “This means you actually have another 15-30 years, depending on your lifespan, to let your savings grow through your retirement.”
If you still feel like it’s too late to save, Baker Williams recommends letting Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, be your retirement guide.
“Warren Buffett amassed 90% of his wealth after age 65,” Baker Williams said. “Even if you’re in your 50s, it’s not too late to start saving for retirement. Let him be the inspiration!”
More From GOBankingRates