When you are young, you feel that the "future" is always a ways away--until one day you wake-up and it isn't. There are so many things in our lives we can't plan for, however, doing everything we can to help us to have a good financial future is something we CAN do and the sooner you do it, the better off you will be!
Retirement Saving Starts NOW - No matter what stage you are in life, start saving for your retirement NOW. In fact, the younger you are, the better off you will be if you start right now! Check out the retirement plans your company has and do your best to put some of your income into it every pay. Some companies will match what you put in up to a certain percentage, so, that is FREE MONEY in your account, too. Plan that every year you will increase the amount you put in, so that you can get the best benefit from your company's plan you can. Some of us don't have that option with the job that we have, so, then you need to make sure you save SOMETHING on your own Every. Single. Pay. Even if it is a small amount, eventually it will grow and if it is in an account that gives interest, the longer it sits and the more that is added, the more extra money will be added a little at a time.
Emergencies WILL Happen - When I first started living my adult life, I honestly felt that if I paid attention and did the best I could emergencies would stay away. Seriously. I didn't realize I felt that way at the time, but, since every time some sort of thing that happened threw me for a loop, I realized as I went along how naïve I was. I figured that if something came along, somehow we would "handle it" and sometimes we were so very lucky, but, other times we found ourselves in a mess because we didn't have a dime to put towards any emergency that came our way. As soon as I started with a bit of money put back for an emergency, I found that when one came, I not only had what I needed to cover at least most of the emergency in the first place, but, it also stopped the avalanche of other issues an emergency can create if you are ill prepared. Piece of mind came quickly even in a really bad circumstance. Starting with $500 that you never touch (except in an emergency) up to 6 months of expenses will always, always, always be the best way to handle whatever may come your way!
SAVE for Your Wants - They next thing I have learned to do to help keep my financial future in tact is to save up for what I want--not buy now and pay later! Even after I gave up credit card spending, I learned the hard way that just because I had the "extra" money now, didn't mean I needed to make a spontaneous spending decision. It seems that more times than not, when I have done that, something would come up that I wished I had that money for later that was more important! When you save for a specific thing, you generally don't feel that way when you finally get whatever it is you are saving for, because it had been planned all along and you put a lot of time and effort into it so you don't have that regretful feeling of "I should have waited". When you have trained your brain that you can wait and save for something, you don't feel as much like you are always desirous of something you don't have. You learn that a lot of your wants don't last that long and that you save yourself from all sorts of things that you would have not been happy with in the long run.
Always BUDGET for Saving - This one was hard for me when I first started because I always felt we had too many things we had to pay for that we never could fit saving into our budget! Once we made a decision that even if it was $5 a pay, we would ALWAYS put something to save (somewhere) we have found a way to always be able to do it. Our emergency fund has been used at times for emergencies, so we work on building it up again, we save when we know we have a big project we need to do at the house or for a trip coming down the road. We save for birthday gifts and anniversaries and even have a "personal" category that we save money in so that if we feel like buying a little something, we can, without guilt. We also work hard on our budget to stay in it and save in all ways whenever we can. For me, since I have learned to do this, it makes the things we do, the places we go and the time we spend doing the things we love, filled with little or no stress--just pure joy--and who doesn't want to do that!
I hope these tips help you to prepare for your financial future and to find ways to enjoy the right now as well as be ready for whatever comes your way!