We're all about securing the bag, but what do you do with it once you get it? While getting that bag is the goal, building wealth is the ultimate reward. Who wants to look up and wonder where all their money went? …Only to realize that Popeye's chicken sandwich and online shopping got way too many of our hard-earned coins.
From creating a habit of saving, no matter what your salary (or lack thereof) is, to planning for the future, our budget bae Pamela Capalad, founder of Brunch & Budget and more, offered up quite a few gems that will make building wealth easier than ever.
As told to Char J. Patterson.
Saving On A Budget:Giphy
"We're all told to have a savings goal of 3-6 months of living expenses, and we need to hit a certain number and have it in the bank. For a lot of people, it's really intimidating to hear that. You hear that and you think, 'Well that's never gonna happen, so I'm just never gonna save.' That's usually where our mind goes whether we know it or not. How are you thinking about saving? If you're thinking about it as this one goal that you're finally going to reach, and it just has to be the perfect time (you get a bonus, you get a tax refund, etc.), you need to adjust your mindset.
Make savings a habit, make it a part of your life.
Pay yourself first. Even though it sounds a little weird, think about your savings as a bill. Just like you pay your rent, just like you pay your credit card bill, pay yourself; integrate an amount in your budget that you won't miss. It's more important to get into the act of saving than to try to reach a certain number.
Have a savings account in a place that's totally different from where you bank for your checking account.
When you have your checking and your savings at the same bank, you tend to transfer one amount from your savings to your checking when you're running a little low. Also, most big banks aren't paying you much interest at all for parking your money there. An easy Google search of high-yielding savings accounts will lead you to banks that will help your money make money.
Have part of your direct deposit go directly into your savings.
This way, you never see it at all. You don't have to miss it, you don't have to wonder if it went into your savings. Whatever ends up in your checking account, that's what you have to spend."
Spend What’s Important To You:Giphy
"Budgeting is not this formula. We hear you have to X percentage toward food, X toward your necessities. Before you pull out the spreadsheet, figure out what you actually enjoy spending money on. The categories are your basics like rent, utilities, cell phone, internet, transportation, gas, groceries; all the things you need to physically live and survive. Figure out what this number is and set it aside, then you can see what you have leftover. This is where you get into what your values are. Remember, budgets are not restricting or denying yourself.
Psychologically, what ends up happening is you restrict yourself and then one day you spiral and splurge, and it doesn't end up working out.
After the basics, the other values are 'the details' and 'the nothings'. The details are those things that come to mind when someone asks you to create a budget. You think, 'Do I have to give up my coffee every day? Do I have to give up eating out? Do I have to give up shopping? Do I have to give up on getting my hair and my nails done?' When you have things you don't want to give up, those are your details. They get you through the day and feed you emotionally. It's important to spend money on these things because when we deny ourselves, we end up spending money anyway. You're not taking that $5 and putting it in your savings account. You still spend the money, just on the nothing's value. The nothing is where your money goes but you don't even realize it. The things that don't even come to mind when someone asks you where you spend money, because you don't remember spending money on it.
Before you come up with your budget, see where your money is going. Is it a detail or is it a nothing?
You'll find clear categories and realize that you can give yourself permission to spend money on the details and what's important to you. You'll feel good instead of guilty about it. Then, you can enjoy spending money and you'll be less likely to spend money on the 'nothings'."
Boost That Credit Score:Giphy
"The first thing is knowing what it is, knowing how to read a credit report, and knowing what impacts it. There are a lot of factors that go into your credit. But the ones that impact people the most is making sure you make your payments on time.
35% of your score is on-time payments.
One late payment can affect your credit score for seven years, which is ridiculous, but that's how it works. And that's just 30 days late. I would suggest enrolling in autopay for minimum payments on your credit card. No matter what, making your minimum payment on time, counts as making your payment on time. If you keep a very clean on-time payment record, that's 35% of your score your right there.
30% of your score is based on the balance of your card, compared to your credit limit.
A rule of thumb is you don't want to have more than 30% of the limit on your balance. For example, if you have a $1,000 limit, you don't want to put more than $300 on it at a time. So if you want to use your card, and you have a low limit, there are a couple of things you can do. You can call your credit card company and ask them to increase your limit. You can do this as often as every six months. Sometimes you're pre-approved and it doesn't affect your credit at all, but sometimes they do check your credit. It does affect your score negatively when they check your credit, but it will go back after a couple of months. I had a client who diligently called their credit card company every six months, and her limit is now more than her salary.
You can also pay your credit card bill more often than once a month. They only report your balance every 30 days, so as long as you keep your balance low within a certain timeframe, you can keep using it, getting points, and all that good stuff. If your goal is to get your score higher, I would start paying your cards down to 30% of those limits. If you get it below that, you'll see it go up in the next months or two. Either way, your credit usage affects your score pretty quickly, whether it's above or below the 30%."
Get An Estate Plan Together:Giphy
"No one wants to think about an estate plan. No one thinks they need one. When you hear the word "estate", you think, 'Oh that's for rich people.' But we all have access and things we want to pass on to people.
The easiest thing to do is to name a beneficiary.
You can do this on your retirement account, your 401k, your pension at work, whatever it is. You just need to know their birthday and social security number, and you're done. You don't have to think about it unless something changes. As long as you have a beneficiary who's still alive, the money automatically passes to that person, and it doesn't go through the court system at all. When it goes through the court system, you have to pay court fees, lawyer fees, etc.; and when that happens, that chips away at the money that actually goes to your beneficiaries.
If you just want to pass on money from your bank account, you can complete a transfer-on-death. The name is really morbid, but you just ask your bank for the form, and you can list beneficiaries for all of your bank accounts – checking, savings, and any investment accounts that isn't an investment account.
If you have tangible things you want to leave to people, you can set up a will and name beneficiaries through the will. Anything mentioned in the will goes through probate court, but it's a pretty cut and dry situation. Your family might not need to hire attorneys through the process, they can just go through it themselves. If you own your home, you 1000% need to set up a will. If you have children, you need to set up a will to name guardians for your children in case something happens to their mother and father.
Another important document is the health care property. It allows someone to speak on your behalf for medical decisions, in case you can't speak on your own. The default is your spouse, then your parents, then your siblings, then your next of kin and things like that. I've seen situations where people don't have their parents speaking for them, and they have a significant other who they're not married to. I advise them to fill out a health care property document that be found right on Google, and just give it to their doctor.
Also, a power of attorney is another document that allows someone to handle financial matters for you, in case you couldn't do it yourself. This would be someone to access your bank account, pay your bills, etc.
In the end, I think what tends to happen is, we think of personal finances as something we'll get to eventually. But in reality, when we don't get into these things, we get taken advantage of. When we can get in control of our finances, that's how you can really empower yourself and others."
Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:
Featured image by Shutterstock