Money moves have been top of mind as the world tries to get its emotional and fiscal feet back on steady ground. Those who can afford to pop their heads up and look around face a host of challenges.
Among the advance scouts are “wealth whisperer” Winnie Sun and marketing and brand strategist Chelsea Krost. During Krost’s #MillennialTalk Twitter chat, they discussed how those able to do so can put their funds in the best position to ride out the coming months and beyond.
Amid uncertainties, financial stability is relative. Those in essential services might be financially stable but perhaps burnt out nervous wrecks. Those in a service industry are just wrecks.
“Focus on what you can control when it comes to your money,” said Krost, who cut her teeth as a millennial expert. She gave these tips:
- Get clear on your monthly overhead.
- Get realistic on where you can cut back.
- Spend less and stash more — mindset shift.
- Avoid your spending triggers.
- Look for savings before you buy.
“Most of us don’t have an emergency fund in place,” Krost said. “That makes it even more difficult when something totally unexpected strikes.”
Calamities out of the blue can be real attention-getters.
“These unprecedented times have certainly been a wake-up call for many of us,” Sun said. “You can still find financial stability by taking steps toward building your financial independence.
“Feeling overwhelmed about your finances is normal, which is why learning financial literacy can be very empowering,” she said. “It’s about tweaking how you spend, how you save, how you invest and more importantly, understanding how money makes you feel.”
“You can map out your financial plan,” she said. “It’s much like making a list of what to pack for a vacation. You don’t want to overthink it, but you have to start and you have to see it through. Plan for the unexpected.
“Most of all, focus energy on making more money,” Sun said. “This builds up your financial freedom and creates allowances for minor mistakes, tweaks and unexpected financial emergencies.”
Creating a monthly budget is essential even with inconsistent income.
For any budget, be realistic. It’s hard enough to stick to a budget, but it’s tough to keep a grip on a fantasy.
Krost suggests taking these steps:
- Determine your income and how much money you make after taxes.
- Calculate expenses. Know your monthly nut.
- Schedule monthly bills. Pay on time because interest adds up.
- Have a savings plan.
- Make budgeting a habit.
“In most cases it’s easier to reduce spending versus making more money,” Krost said. “Look back at your budget and determine what can be reduced. It may be time to break up with your barista.
“Interest fees are brutal,” she said. “If you don’t chip away at credit card debt, you will be continuously throwing money at it without paying it down.”
Monthly Budgeting Exercises
Sun Group Wealth Partners has a free budget worksheet to help people get off to a quick start.
“Begin with the household budget worksheet, “ Sun said. “That will help give you an idea of how much you spend each month.
“Repeat your budgeting exercise for a couple months each year,” she said. “It’s sort of like a financial detox exercise where you figure out where all your money is going and areas that you can cut back.”
Budgets need not be permanent, but maintaining one is a good habit.
“Many of my clients now have an internal wallet that knows when it’s time to hold off spending,” Sun said. “They keep in line without even keeping tabs and use a credit card to keep track of monthly expenses.
“Credit card debt can have no place in your beautiful life,” she said. “Don’t start investing until you’re done paying them off. It’s like swimming with a broken leg.”
Sun and Krost talked about money management, setting up retirement plans and collecting bars of soap. If that sounds intriguing, see the rest of their conversation.