13 Things You Should Accomplish with Your Money Before Turning 30

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When it comes to managing money, time is on your side in your 20s. A head start on saving and investing could mean huge financial gains in the future. To help you optimize this decade, we’ve come up with 13 milestones to aim to achieve before hitting 30:

  1. Build an emergency fund. Life is full of unexpected — and, often, costly — surprises. That’s why it’s crucial to build an emergency fund.The amount of savings you need is highly personal, but a general rule is that it’s smart to have three to nine months’ worth of living expenses tucked away. Of course, you may need more or less depending on your situation. By 30, you should be at, or well on your way to, that three- to nine-month mark.
  2. Negotiate your salary. You can’t sit around and expect a raise or bonus to fall into your lap. Even if your boss notices your hard work and efficiency, he or she won’t necessarily pay you more. You have to ask for what you want.As personal-finance expert Farnoosh Torabi, who doubled her salary at 26, preaches, “You don’t get what you deserve. You get what you negotiate.”There’s a right and a wrong way to go about this delicate conversation. Read up on things you should never say in a salary negotiation, know what you’re worth before heading into the meeting, and consider tips from a 28-year-old woman who made a $30,000 leap.
  3. Contribute at least 10% of your income to a retirement account. Retirement is never too far off to neglect, especially since time is on your side when you’re young. In fact, when you start to save outweighs how much you save, meaning your 20s are a critical decade.Many experts recommend putting aside at least 10% of your income. That may not be possible when you’re first starting out your career, but it’s a good goal to have by 30.Get in the habit of upping your contribution on a consistent basis — either every six months, at the end of each year, or whenever you get a pay raise — and work your way up to a 10% contribution or more.

    Set up a no-cost, no-obligation appointment with our Investment & Retirement Center at 732.312.1564, samantha.schertz@cunamutual.com or stop in to see us to discuss your future savings goals.*

  4. Establish savings goals and start setting aside money for big purchases. There are bound to be big expenses in your future — a home, car, vacation, and kids, to name a few — that require diligent saving.The best way to prepare for these expenses is to create savings goals, and then set aside money as early as possible. You’ll want to adjust your budget so you can contribute a specific amount of money — depending on your upcoming purchases and time horizon — into a savings account each month. Treat this money like a fixed cost, meaning you must set it aside like you would do for rent or utilities.Pro tip: Set up automatic transfers from your checking account to your savings accounts so you never even see this money and learn to live without it.
  5. Establish wealth goals. In addition to savings goals, you’ll want to establish goals for your annual income and net worth. Money won’t just appear — you have to work at it. If you want to eventually build wealth, you have to have a clear and specific goal in place before forming a financial plan to achieve that goal.Be realistic when setting a time frame to attain these bigger wealth goals, but at the same time, think big and don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. A distinguishing characteristic of rich people is their commitment to setting high expectations.
  6. Buy the insurance you need. Nobody wants to deal with insurance — it’s complex and confusing — but by 30, you should have the coverage that’s right for you. That means health, renter’s (or homeowner’s if you have your own place), auto, and disability insurance. And depending on your situation, it may mean life or pet insurance.It’s also smart to make a habit out of reevaluating your insurance plans each year to ensure that your coverage is still working for your needs and budget.
  7. Set up a method to start tracking your expenses. By 30, you should have a very good idea of how much money is coming in and how much is going out.Apart from making sure you’re earning more than you’re spending, you’ll want to get a good idea of whether or not you’re on track with your savings and retirement goals. You’ll also want to see if there’s any room to reduce spending and up your saving.Strategies to track cash flow include recording each purchase you make in a spreadsheet or notebook, or downloading an app that will categorize and monitor your monthly and annual spending, such as Mint, You Need a Budget, or Personal Capital.
  8. Pay off some of your student debt. Student-loan debt in particular is often blamed for preventing young people from buying homes and growing their wealth, so the sooner you can start living debt-free, the better.Plus, the longer you wait to pay it down, the more you’ll owe, thanks to interest. Interest works in your favor with your savings and to your detriment with your debt, when it can build up over time and sometimes end up costing more than what you originally borrowed.
  9. Experiment with a side hustle. It’s easy to focus on cutting costs and forget about earning, but the wealthiest, most successful people develop multiple streams of income.Earning more money is often easier said than done, but most people have options. Read about 50 ways to bring in additional income, high-paying jobs you can do on the side, how you can earn passive income, and how to start a side hustle from a woman who earned up to $4,000 a month on the side.Plus, it’s good to experiment with being your own boss, rather than working for your money. After all, there is a significant difference between how rich people and average people choose to get paid.
  10. Invest in something other than your retirement savings plan. Many experts recommend using investment vehicles in addition to your employer’s retirement plan to ensure that you’ll have enough to fund your golden years.If you’re maxing out your 401(k) plan, consider contributing money toward a Roth IRA or traditional IRA, research low-cost index funds — which Warren Buffett recommends — and look into the online-investment platforms known as “robo-advisers.”Of course, you’ll want to make sure that your general finances are in order before you invest. But if you have a sound emergency fund, have prepared for future expenses, and are debt-free, then the quicker you put your money to work and jump start its growth, the better.
  11. Establish a strong credit score. Your credit score, which you can check as often as you want through free sites like Credit KarmaCredit.com, or Credit Sesame, is a three-digit number between 301 and 850 based on how you’ve used credit in the past.Generally, you don’t want your credit score to dip below 650, as potential creditors in the future will consider you less trustworthy and less deserving of the best rates.While often overlooked or forgotten about, building good credit early on is essential. It will allow you to make big purchases in the future, such as insurance, a car, or a home. Start by selecting a good credit card and then focus on establishing smart credit card habits.
  12. Make your payments automatic. In today’s technologically savvy world, there’s no excuse to ever miss a payment. Most bills can be paid online, and you often have the option of setting up automatic payments. If you automate consistent payments for fixed costs — cable, internet, Netflix, and insurance — you won’t have to think about them every month and will never miss a bill.You can do the same for variable costs such as credit-card bills, although you’ll want to check in on your account regularly to make sure that things are going smoothly and there aren’t any signs of fraud.For payments that can’t be made online, such as rent, set up calendar reminders and get in the habit of paying them around the same time each month so it becomes routine.
  13. Invest in yourself. The wealthiest, most successful people are constantly exercising their brains and looking for ways to continue learning long after college or any formal education is over.Self-educate by enrolling in a course, attending a work-related conference, or investing in books. On a similar note, invest in your health — consider pursuing an appealing form of exercise, or anything else that will better your health and strengthen your mind.As self-made millionaire Daniel Ally, who reached millionaire status by 24, emphasizes: “You must take your education into your own hands if you want to prosper. Invest in yourself.”

*Representatives are registered, securities are sold, and investment advisory services offered through CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc. (CBSI), member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker/dealer and investment advisor, 2000 Heritage Way, Waverly, Iowa 50677, toll-free 800-369-2862. Non-deposit investment and insurance products are not federally insured, involve investment risk, may lose value and are not obligations of or guaranteed by the financial institution. CBSI is under contract with the financial institution, through the financial services program, to make securities available to members. CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc., is a registered broker/dealer in all fifty states of the United States of America.

Original article source courtesy of Kathleen Elkins of Business Insider.

10 Money Questions to Ask Yourself

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The first quarter of the year is a great time for reflection. And your money is no exception: Think about where it’s been, where it’s going, and, most important, where you want it to go. Whether your finances had a stellar year or took a hit, take a minute to check in and see where you want to go next. Here are 10 questions to get you started for a better financial year.

1. How much debt am I taking into 2016?
Tally up what you have left to pay on your student loans, any outstanding credit card balances, and your mortgage (if applicable). Take a long, hard look at this number. It’s better to know it than not know it. Make this number a key part of your action plan for next year.

2. How much did I save last year?
If you automate deposits into your savings account, this should be easy to calculate. (If not, here’s your incentive to do it.) Take a look at your savings account and consider what’s there: Could you have saved more? Did you plan to have more? What stopped you from meeting your goal? And if you don’t have a savings account — or a savings plan — make one.

3. What’s my credit score?
First of all, know what goes into your credit score — and then check your number free online. Check your credit report, too, and make sure any debts you’ve accrued this year are accounted for and that no one has taken out lines of credit in your name. Remember: You get one free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus a year: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

4. Am I getting the most out of my credit cards?
Take stock of what your credit cards have given you this year, like great rewards, lower interest rates, or cash back. If your cards haven’t provided you with any of those perks, consider upgrading to a different card. If you have a card that’s dragging you down with high annual fees, think about closing it — provided you know the consequences of doing so. Make sure you know the best way to use your cards and that you aren’t inadvertently hurting your credit.

Transfer your high balance to First Financial’s Visa Platinum Credit Card today!* Enjoy great low rates, no balance transfer fees, no annual fees, and 10 day grace period.** Getting started is easy – click here to apply online, 24/7. 

5. How much money will I make this year? Can I make more?
Whether you’re a full-time employee or a one-lady business, consider whether there are ways you can grow your income. Is there some sort of side gig you can take on? Could you be a consultant? If you work a 9 to 5, would a switch to freelance be more lucrative? On the other hand, is it finally time to shut down professional projects that are draining your resources?

6. What do I want to save for in the next year? How will I accomplish that?
Set financial goals, like saving for a down payment on a home, paying off a certain amount of debt, or putting a specific amount in savings. Figure out what strategies you will put in place to save, such as making lifestyle changes or automating with apps.

7. Did I stick to my budget? If not, why not?
If you blew off your budget this year, take time to troubleshoot. Maybe your goals were unrealistic or you didn’t have a budget at all. Now’s the ideal time to make one, or get started with an app or two.

8. How will I budget this year?
Once you know what has (or hasn’t) been working for you, look ahead toward optimizing. Maybe you’re ready to switch from a simple pen and notebook to an app, or vice versa. Maybe you’ve learned that you perform better on a less stringent budget and or that you actually need more structure. If you’re newly partnered (or married), this may involve merging finances — or simply merging financial goals.

9. How much money is in my emergency fund?
You have no idea what the new year could bring: sudden health crises, unexpected layoffs, or a downturn in business. Make sure your emergency fund (about three to six months of living expenses) is robust enough to take care of you if need be. And if not, make it a priority to establish a healthy fund. If you need some incentive to save, make it fun with these hacks.

10. What are some poor money habits I can squash?
Think about some areas in your daily (or monthly) life where you can save — or stretch your dollar. If you’re living beyond your means, know where to rein it in. Eating out at work? Make lunch. Tempted to go buy new clothes? How about revamping your old ones instead? Know the red flags if you think you’re in financial trouble and decide to make a change.

*APR varies from 11.15% to 18% when you open your account based on your credit worthiness. This APR is for purchases, balance transfers, and cash advances and will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate. Subject to credit approval. Rates quoted assume excellent borrower credit history. Your actual APR may vary based on your state of residence, approved loan amount, applicable discounts and your credit history. No Annual Fee. Other fees that apply: Cash advance fee of 1% of advance ($5 minimum and $25 maximum), Late Payment Fee of up to $25, Foreign Transaction Fee of 1% plus foreign exchange rate of transaction amount, $5 Card Replacement Fee, and Returned Payment Fee of up to $25. A First Financial membership is required to obtain a VISA Platinum Card. **No late fee will be charged if payment is received within 10 days from the payment due date.

Original article source courtesy of Koa Beck of Market Watch.

3 Steps to Prepare Your Finances for a Good Year

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January is over and for many of us, that means New Year’s resolutions are almost out the window. But we still have most of 2016 ahead of us. Here are a few ways you can set yourself up for financial success this year and beyond.

1. Adjust your tax withholdings.

When it comes to income tax, the goal should be to come out even. On April 15, you don’t want to get a huge refund or a huge tax bill.

Getting a refund is exciting, and it’s not a bad way to accumulate savings. But remember, that means the government has held your money for the entire year without paying you interest. In essence, you gave the government a free loan. To avoid this situation, decrease the amount of income tax you have withheld by your employer.

If you’re in the other camp and receive a big bill, that’s another reason to revisit your withholding amount. In this case, you should increase the amount of taxes being taken out of your paycheck each month.

And if your life situation changes in the middle of the year — for example, you get married or divorced or have a baby — you should also take another look at your withholding amount.

2. Increase your 401(k) contributions.

Are you saving enough for retirement? Now is a good time to review your year-end 401(k) statement or pay stub and find out how much you contributed to your retirement plan in 2015.

At the minimum, you should contribute enough to qualify for your employer match, if you have one. If you have more money available, shoot for the maximum allowable contribution in 2016 ($18,500); if you’re over 50, set up additional “catch-up” contributions of $5,500.

Making these changes early in the year will ensure that you plan your monthly cash flow around your higher contributions. And if you wait until the middle of the year to adjust your contribution amount, you’ll have to save much more each month to reach your savings goal.

Have you had your financial portfolio reviewed lately? We invite you to set up a no-cost consultation with the Investment & Retirement Center located at First Financial to discuss your current finances and future savings goals. Contact us at 732.312.1564, email us, or stop in to see us at any branch location!*

3. Review your employee benefits.

Check your company’s resources page to make sure you’re taking full advantage of the useful — and often free — benefits it provides.

Review your current benefit elections to determine what coverage — such as health, life or disability insurance — you have in place and whether it’s still adequate. Life changes — again, including getting married or divorced or having children — can be good reasons to adjust your coverage.

If you do need to make changes, ask about your company’s open enrollment period; this is often the only time you can make changes to your coverage, unless you experience a qualifying life event, like the ones mentioned above. On the other hand, you may change your 401(k) options on a fairly regular basis.

Pay close attention to your benefits. Incorrectly selected or overlooked benefits can cost you money.

The Bottom Line

Doing these tasks early in the year can help you commit to improving your finances in other ways during the rest of the year. So don’t wait — tackle these steps today to set yourself up for a financially successful 2016.

*Representatives are registered, securities are sold, and investment advisory services offered through CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc. (CBSI), member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker/dealer and investment advisor, 2000 Heritage Way, Waverly, Iowa 50677, toll-free 800-369-2862. Non-deposit investment and insurance products are not federally insured, involve investment risk, may lose value and are not obligations of or guaranteed by the financial institution. CBSI is under contract with the financial institution, through the financial services program, to make securities available to members. CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc., is a registered broker/dealer in all fifty states of the United States of America.

Original article courtesy of Anna Sergunina of NerdWallet.

7 Money Questions to Ask Yourself in the New Year

 

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Will you make financial resolutions for 2016? If so, you’re not alone. According to a study done by Fidelity Investments, financial resolutions are the most popular kind of new year self-improvement. Not only that, but they’re also the most successful, with 29% of people surveyed reaching their financial goals and 74% getting halfway there. Compared to the 12% success rate for resolutions concerning health and fitness, planning to get your finances in order seems like the way to go this year!

You don’t want to just make resolutions, though — you want to be part of the 29% that stick with them all the way through the year. To set yourself up for financial success in 2016, you first need to understand your relationship with your finances.

1. What are your financial goals for the year?
A new year often means new goals and milestones in your life, and your financial plan needs to change to keep up with those. Maybe last year you were saving for a trip abroad, but this year you are saving for a down payment on a house. Or maybe you’re edging closer to retirement and need to start saving more aggressively.

Don’t be vague when identifying these goals. A concrete milestone, such as “I want to add $6,000 to my emergency fund” is going to keep you motivated a lot longer than a vague one like, “I want to save money.” Once you know what your financial goals are, you’ll be able to come up with a spending and budgeting plan for how to reach them.

2. What are your personal priorities for 2016?
Factors other than financial goals should influence your budget, too. Is it important to you to spend time with friends on a weekly basis? Add a “fun” line in your budget for activities like eating out, movies, and weekend activities. Do you want to support the arts in your community? Set aside money for a seasonal subscription to a local theatre or orchestra. Do you have specific causes that you care about? Budget a monthly allowance for donations or charity.

When it comes to finances, it’s easy to fall into the trap of letting your financial goals determine your spending. But life is more than just retirement and mortgages. Give yourself permission to let your personal priorities influence your spending decisions, too. You’ll be happier, more satisfied with your financial life, and better able to stick to the budget you set.

3. Where did you slip last year?
The new year is an excellent time to take stock of what did and didn’t work in the past year — that includes where you didn’t quite follow your budget. Did you eat out more than you should have in 2015? Not save as much for retirement as you wanted? Impulse shop too frequently?

You can’t improve in 2016 until you know where you went wrong the year before. Take some time to look at your spending from the last twelve months and identify the area where you slipped up. The make a plan for how to avoid those mistakes this year. You may need to automate the money that goes into your savings and retirement accounts. You may need to exercise a little more restraint in your spending. Whatever the solution, it will be easier to put into practice once you know what the problems are.

4. What are your mandatory expenses?
Once you know your goals, priorities, and weak spots, it’s time to begin setting up your budget. Start by identifying the living expenses that you must pay every month. These will include your rent or mortgage, insurance bills, utilities, and any debt payments. Budget for these expenses first, subtracting their total from your monthly income after taxes. Whatever is leftover is what you have available for variable expenses.

5. How much can you save each month?
Once you’ve determined how much to set aside for mandatory expenses, it’s time to look at savings. Savings can include long-term goals, like retirement, or short term goals, like a vacation. Identify everything that you want to save for this year, then order them in terms of urgency.

Some goals, like retirement, you should save for every month. Other things, like travel or large expenses, can be saved for one at a time. Once you’ve met one savings goal, you can move on to the next one. When you decide what you’d like to contribute to each goal, the best way to stay on track is to make saving non-optional. Set up an automatic transfer, either from your paycheck or your checking account, to put the money directly into savings as soon as it lands in your bank account. You won’t risk spending it accidentally, and you will ensure that you make monthly contributions towards your savings.

6. What are your spending triggers?
A lot of financial management is about cutting spending — reducing your insurance bill, avoiding credit card interest, eating out less. But all the small cuts in the world won’t help if you don’t know your spending triggers.

Spending triggers are those moments or circumstances that make you pull out your credit card and break the rules of your budget, even when you have the best of intentions. If you want to cut your spending, take some time to identify these triggers and come up with a plan to eliminate them.

If you can’t resist a coupon code when it shows up in your inbox, then you should unsubscribe from promotional emails. If you always want to eat out when you’re stressed, create a new, free routine for unwinding after a hard day at the office. Do you always spend more when you go shopping with a certain friend? Come up with other activities the two of you can do together and leave your credit card at home when you go out. Once you’ve identified your spending triggers and come up with ways to avoid them, you’ll have a much easier time sticking to your budget.

7. Where does your budget have wiggle room?
Managing your finances is awesome, and cutting down your spending to save more is a great goal. But if you are on a strict budget all the time, with no room for any lapses or fun purchases, you risk getting “budget burnout” and slipping back into old, bad habits.

To avoid that, identify the places where you can cut yourself some slack. Maybe you’re giving up eating out but can still treat yourself to a latte once or twice a week. Maybe you’re giving up cable, but you and your roommate can split a Netflix subscription. Allow yourself a few inexpensive extras and sticking to your larger financial goals will feel much less stifling.

Finally, wiggle room also means planning for the unexpected. It may seem smart to put every extra penny into savings and retirement, but what happens when your car breaks down and you don’t have any money for the repair? Leave a little wiggle room for surprise expenses, and you won’t just start a budget, you’ll stick with it.

The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to get your finances in order. Be honest and realistic with yourself as you put together your plan for 2016, and you’ll find yourself on your way to sustainable financial success!

*Original article source courtesy of the Huffington Post.

10 Life Hacks to Help You Free Up Money

Screen-Shot-2015-09-17-at-2.15.00-PMAre you looking for ways you can cut down on expenses and put a little extra money aside? Maybe you’re looking to budget more efficiently, fund that big vacation or save for retirement.

This post is dedicated to little tricks to keep more of your money in your pocket. You can have a little fun with these things, too.

1. Call to Cancel. See How They React.

Savings doesn’t always mean going without. Sometimes when you call to cancel a service (e.g. cable, Internet, satellite radio, etc.), they’re very motivated to retain you as a client. After all, some of your money is better than none at all.

If they’re focused on retention, they may give you a reduced rate for a certain period of time or direct you to a plan that costs less without 37 channels that show 20-year-old movies.

Another good strategy in this situation is to research their competition. Tell them you’re switching to Competitor X who’s offering the same or better level of service for $50 cheaper. Play them against each other. Even if they just offer to match, this works to your advantage. You don’t have to take the equipment back.

2. Cut the Cord.

A lot of people are cutting the cord and canceling cable for good. A couple of technological developments happening right now make this very possible.

For starters, you can now get HDTV out of an antenna to watch your local programming. You can also subscribe to multiple services like Netflix, Hulu and even HBO online to get your television for less than you would pay on a monthly basis for a cable subscription.

However, you might run into a problem with sports. Many games are shown on cable, but all the major professional leagues have their own subscription services now. Just be aware you may have to pick and choose sports to make cutting the cord cost-effective.

3. Reacquaint Yourself with Your Local Library

Take some time to browse your local public library. While it is good to see they still have books at the library, they also have a large selection of CDs and DVDs.

You can also check out e-books! Seriously though, your library may have a lot more education and entertainment options than it used to. It may be worth checking out if you haven’t been there in a while.

4. Lunch at the Grocery Store.

Check out your grocery store’s sample selection – it’s worth your while. A motivated person has many choices, often including dessert, from various sample lines. Why do you think everyone is queued up when you go in there on a particularly busy Saturday? They’ve discovered a secret.

“Of course I’ll try the chicken cordon bleu…Why yes! I think I’ll have a butterscotch cookie.”

It’s important to note that the portions are small. You can definitely make this work for lunch, but not dinner.

5. Pay Attention to Those Receipts.

After you’ve done your shopping (and maybe gotten a midday meal in the bargain), it’s time to head to the cash register. However, it’s important to remember the savings doesn’t always stop when you check out.

Many stores add coupons to the backs of receipts now. It’s their way of keeping you coming back for more, but it also saves you money to use those coupons.

6. Get That Deposit Back.

Many states charge a small deposit on the purchase of all bottles and cans. You get that deposit back when you bring them back to the store and feed the machine.

You won’t be able to retire early on the amount you get back, but it will give you some spare change for the drive-through.

7. Save Those Ketchup Packets.

Save those extra ketchup packets from fast-food restaurants. If they give you four sauce packets and you only use two, stick the others in a drawer. They could come in handy when you run out. You’ll also be well-stocked when the zombie apocalypse causes a worldwide shortage of whatever that stuff is they use for onion ring sauce.

8. Rewards Programs.

Many businesses have rewards programs for their customers. You can shop around to see who gives you the best deal. There are programs for things like credit cards, airline miles and grocery stores. Although these are the more traditional ones, you can find rewards programs for all sorts of things like movie theaters, pharmacies, etc.

9. Attend Matinee Movies.

There’s not many things you want to roll out of bed before 9 a.m. on a Saturday for, but it might be worth it for a matinee movie. Different theaters will have different times, but if you go to one of the early showings, you can often get a ticket for $5 or $6.

It can be super cheap entertainment if you manage to run through without succumbing to the smell of the popcorn stand. But there is one trick that could save you a couple bucks: If you and your friend are going to drink the same beverage, don’t go with two smalls. It’s often cheaper to get a large drink and two straws. Just make sure you know whose is whose. Plus, the same matinee strategy will work if you go to the theater for a play as well.

10. Gift Card Sites.

There are sites online where you could sell such unwanted gift cards to someone else at a slight discount to benefit you both. Convert a gift card you’re not going to use into cash and get a great deal on something you would use!

*Original article source courtesy of Kevin Graham of ZING!

8 Ways to Recover from a Financial Setback

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From big emergencies to minor setbacks, learning how to deal with money crises is a key aspect of healthy financial management. Losses are a part of life, and while planning and preparing for them can help, you can’t always stop fiscal setbacks from occurring.

When faced with financial hardship, individuals need to adapt their money plans to deal with present challenges. After all, your normal fiscal approach isn’t going to work when times are tough. Here are eight tips designed to help limit the damage of financial problems and get you and your money back on track.

1. Calm Emotions and Stay Smart.

The stress that results from financial setbacks can lead individuals to make foolish mistakes with regard to money.

“Setbacks often leave us reeling, since they’re often unexpected and can involve high emotion, and when emotion goes up… intelligence goes down,” said Robert T. Kiyosaki, author of No. 1 personal finance book, “Rich Dad Poor Dad.” Kiyosaki went on to advise people to stay rational about the choices ahead.

According to Kiyosaki, a financial crisis represents an opportunity to learn more about money and improve your financial habits.

“Financial education and getting smarter with your money is always a great way to prepare for the future — whatever it holds, good and bad — and hedge against all the unexpected speed bumps (and potholes, and road black and detours) on the road to financial freedom,” Kiyosaki said.

2. Adopt a Problem-Solving Mentality.

When faced with financial hardship, savvy individuals face their problems head on.

Kyle Taylor, founder of the popular personal finance blog, ThePennyHoarder.com, said, “When going through a financial setback, it’s important to develop a problem-solver mentality. After all, setbacks are merely a setup for a comeback.”

While money problems might seem insurmountable, it’s important to look for ways to address financial issues proactively.

“Regroup and re-strategize when things go awry,” said Taylor. “You may need to adjust your budget and figure out additional income streams.”

3. Make a Plan.

While adopting a positive, forward-thinking attitude is essential, individuals must also create specific plans to deal with their new circumstances.

“We all have financial setbacks, but it’s how we handle these setbacks that often separates those who win with money from those who don’t,” said Chris Hogan, a retirement expert with the Dave Ramsey team. “Create a plan to help you overcome the obstacle, whether it’s a job loss, costly emergency or simply regretting a large purchase.”

When crafting your plan, one of the aims is to modify your spending behavior and use the extra money to tackle your financial setback.

“That may mean cutting back on your expenses until you’re able to build your emergency fund back up, or you may need to start budgeting so you can avoid overspending,” Hogan said. “Remember, your past doesn’t determine your financial future.”

Everyone has the power to change fiscal habits and do better moving forward.

4. Get a Money Mentor.

When you’re in the middle of a monetary crisis, it can feel like there’s no way out. To combat feelings of hopelessness, money experts recommend seeking out people who have been in situations like yours (or worse ones!) and determining how they dug themselves out of the hole.

“Get a mentor/coach to help… someone that has been there,” said Josh Felber, an entrepreneur and business coach.

This person can provide individualized advice about how to improve your situation, give you encouragement when you’re feeling down and keep you accountable to ensure you stay on track.

Here at First Financial, our first priority is helping you achieve your financial dreams by defining your dream goals and lifestyle, empowering you through financial education, building your wealth, planning your retirement, and managing your risk. Establishing financial goals is an important part of saving enough money, and being ready for the future and we are here for you! Stop into any one of our branches and sit with a representative to have an annual financial check-up for a review of your finances and portfolio. 

5. Start Saving Right Away.

While finances might be tight right now, that doesn’t mean you should abandon important money habits like saving. Even in the midst of a financial crisis, business experts like Whitney Johnson recommend that saving habits be maintained.

According to the author of the bestselling book, “Disrupt Yourself: Putting the Power of Disruptive Innovation to Work,” individuals should strive to save each month, “no matter how small the amount … even before you think you can.”

The truth is, you can’t afford not to save, especially while your finances are still recovering.

6. Give Yourself a Raise.

If you need to secure some extra money to tackle a big financial issue, you might be able to find it by lowering your expenses.

“Remember that you have the power to give yourself a raise,” said Jeanette Pavini, money expert and spokesperson for Coupons.com. Here’s what she means: “Spending less can be like making more.”

According to Pavini, individuals might also need to sacrifice extra luxuries while recovering from a financial setback.

“Get rid of the $150 a month cable bill, and it’s like giving yourself an $1,800 after-tax raise,” Pavini said, adding that financial stress can be detrimental to mental health and overall wellness. However, she suggested that simplifying one’s life can have positive consequences as well.

Said Pavini, “You may even find that when you simplify and learn to live without, your life becomes rich in so many other ways.”

7. Keep Your Credit On Track.

While a financial crisis can feel overwhelming, money experts recommend keeping credit ratings on track. Clark Howard, host of the nationally syndicated radio program, “The Clark Howard Show,” advised consumers to keep an eye on their credit scores during financial setbacks and take steps to improve them.

Howard says, “If you’re suffering from poor credit, there are several surefire ways to get your credit healthy again.” He recommends that individuals take the following steps to start:

  1. “Always pay your bills on time and pay down the total amount you owe. If you forget all else after reading this, remember this one! This is the single most important rule for having a good credit score.”
  2. “Keep a low credit utilization rate.” This means keeping credit card balances low and resisting the urge to charge more to accounts.
  3. “When you pay off a credit card, don’t close the account. Doing so only reduces your available credit and drives your score down.” He also recommends keeping four to six lines of credit open, using each twice a year and paying them off right away. “That will keep them active in your credit mix.”

8. Target Credit Card Debt.

Paying off credit card debt is a key part of recovering from financial hardship. Bestselling Finance Author, Nicole Lapin, notes that charging purchases is all too easy and cautions individuals against getting behind on debt.

After factoring in interest, Lapin said, “you may end up paying $50 for a pair of socks before you’re through paying off your cards.” With that in mind, she advises individuals to “double-time” their credit card debt and strive to pay off balances monthly. Lapin went on to acknowledge that people in the midst of a financial setback might not be in the position to pay off credit card debt immediately.

“Instead, try to curb enough of your other expenses (take from your ‘fun money’ category first) to double-down on your payments each month,” said Lapin.

The money expert also recommended that those with debt get an early start on their taxes and use any refund checks to pay down credit card bills. Not anticipating a refund this year? If you racked up credit card debt with too many purchases, you can always put your loot to use in paying off the balance.

“Pull out the clothes, appliances and household items that you haven’t used in a while, or don’t want anymore,” Lapin said. “You can auction them off on eBay, or post them on your local Craigslist, and then use this ‘free-money’ to pay down debt.”

Financial setbacks are inevitable, but you don’t have to stay in debt long term. By following the expert tips above, you can get back on the road to fiscal health.

*Original article source courtesy of Elyssa Kirkham of GoBankRates.com.