When you’re a beginner in establishing a personal finance routine, figuring out how to start can feel overwhelming. Once you understand the basics, your journey to financial success can begin! Check out these seven actionable steps you can take right now to begin your personal finance budget today.
1. Live Within Your Means
Stop comparing your personal finances to neighbors, colleagues, friends, or even your family. It's hard to turn down a happy hour or opt for budget-friendly activities, but your small choices add up in the long run. Once you embrace living within your means, it will feel like second nature. Personal savings will add up quickly when you’re avoiding temptations. When you meet your financial goals, then take time to celebrate!
2. Try the 50/30/20 Rule–Or, Make It Your Own
You’re probably familiar with the popular 50/30/20 budgeting tool: spend 50% of your income on essential costs (rent, food, travel, etc.), 30% on “nice to have” expenses (streaming services, unlimited phone plan, etc.), and 20% is for savings. For many people, this is a realistic goal. However, if you’re in your 20s, switching careers, or dealing with unexpected emergencies, it’s okay to adjust. Even just putting away 5-10% of your income into savings will be a win. Focus on what you need to budget for on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. When you feel comfortable and ready, you can always start saving more of your income to invest in stock, an emergency fund, or another financial goal.3. Take Inventory of Your Financial Values
Everyone spends their money differently. Sit down and ask yourself, “How can I align my finances with my personal values?” For some, this means donating to a cause they love on a monthly basis. Maybe, you want to discover smaller charities that rely on personal donations to maintain afloat. Of course, you want to pay yourself first, but giving back is no longer just for big-name donors. Charitable giving can help your personal causes align with your financial values. Try researching different charities or nonprofits you believe in and consider setting up recurring donations that fit within your means. While spare change or a few dollars here and there may feel like a minor effort, you’ll be on the right track to feel good about how you spend your hard-earned money.
4. Already Investing? Consider Appreciated Stock Donations
When you own a stock that increases in value over the year, an appreciated stock donation is a simple way to give back. The best part? When you donate your stock directly to a cause, you cut out capital gains tax. Donating stock can also provide a health check to your portfolio. Review your investments’ gains and losses to rebalance your portfolio to maximize performance. Applying a donation strategy puts your capital gains to work while funding a cause close to you. Speak to an advisor to see how charitable giving can get you the best of both worlds in your personal finance budget.
5. Treat Your Credit Card Like Any Other Monthly Bill
We’ve all been there. You’re about to make a purchase using your debit card, but decide to put it on a credit card instead. You might think, “I’ll get more points!” or “It’s fine, I’ll pay it off.” However, that kind of thinking can tank your credit score, while increasing minimum monthly payments. Aim to pay off your credit card in full each month for maximum savings. This way, you won’t accumulate new debt and can focus on budgeting, personal saving, and long-term financial goals.6. Practice Financial Gratitude
7. Do Your Research
The days where you want to press snooze, ignore your emails or start browsing job sites don’t feel great. Remind yourself of your accomplishments and what you enjoy about your career. Whether you’re just starting out or adjusting to a new promotion, recognize the power of earning a paycheck, using your benefits, and investing in your future. When you start a personal finance budget, take gratitude for this practice as well. Committing to your financial values, budget, and goals is a major accomplishment.
Once you understand your financial values and goals, take some time to research your interests. If investing in the stock market sounds appealing, check out a book to study the basics. If building an emergency fund is the priority, see how much you can put away each week. Maybe you want to give back but aren’t sure where to start. Research local or national charities with missions that align with your principles. Need some inspiration? Read impact stories from our partners and see their missions in action.
No matter where you are on your financial journey, trust that you’re on the right path. With patience and research, you can start investing, saving, and planning sooner rather than later. With our free, all-in-one app you can set goals, accrue savings, and donate to causes you care about. Download the app now to start saving with Spave.