Financial freedom, for many, seems almost an impossible task. Money creates a large amount of stress for many people. The easiest way to lessen your stress and anxiety is by taking control of your money. Once you take control of your money, you can not only find catharsis, but you can also start living your life rather than stressing every day. You can take baby steps toward progress, and still make considerable progress in the long run, with minimal stress. Experiment with what provides you with the greatest level of savings with the least amount of stress; do what works for you. But any changes you make in this direction can reduce stress by helping you to save.
SIGNS THAT YOU ARE DEALING WITH FINANCIAL STRESS
- Are you living paycheck to paycheck?
- Once the bills are paid, do you have very little left for other needs like food or gas?
- You have a lot of student loans, credit card debt, last-minute expenses, or emergencies.
- Have you found yourself making several impulse purchases because you feel you deserve it?
- Have you not made or have yet achieved one financial goal?
- You don’t have a plan to get out of debt
- Do a lot of people plan on you for financial support or to rescue them?
If you answered yes, to any one of these then you are most likely under a great amount of stress. Fortunately, you can take control and turn things around. It may feel suffocating, but it can be fixed.
WHAT TO DO TO FIND FINANCIAL FREEDOM…
Look At The Bigger Picture
If finances are causing you stress, look for things you can cut out of your budget. Do you need to eat out daily? Perhaps you don’t need to buy clothes or coffee as frequently as you do. Also, perhaps you could downgrade from a $10 meal to a $5 meal. Eventually, you will have something that you value more than anything you can buy, which is financial freedom.
This may be challenging at first because certain things have become a habit and habits can often be difficult to change. The key here is to change your focus, the meaning you attach to these extras, or the feeling when you obtain these extras. For example, every time you purchase that morning coffee or $15 cocktail at dinner, remember you are taking away from that financial freedom that you have made a priority.
Be Smart With Spending
From now on, before you buy new things, really consider if whatever you are buying is going to improve your quality of life. If you say no, consider if your spending habits are causing you a bigger amount of stress than it’s worth.
Remember, when you complete a small goal, it’s not quite time yet to yourself with a shopping spree or a party with your friends. Sorry… it’s time to be diligent and to tackle the next debt. The biggest reward is not having to stress about debt and that is your target. If really feel that you have to reward yourself, set a small amount aside in a savings account and aim at getting something for yourself once a good portion of your debt has been paid. For example, once you rid yourself of credit card debt or after you pay off that student loan.
Financial Freedom Begins With A Budget
Initially, figure out how much money you need to achieve your goal and focus on one thing at a time. All it takes to get started is a calculator, pen and paper, and a little time. Also, you can use Pearl Hawaii’s LIFE Manager to get you started. While working on your budget, figure out the interest rate of all of your loans and the minimum balance due each month.
With Pearl Hawaii’s LIFE Manager, you can manage your assets all in one place. LIFE (Loans, Investments, Finances, Earnings) Manager helps you link your accounts at other financial institutions so you can see the bigger picture. Overall, you can make transfers, view balances, and manage money more efficiently. Additionally, you can create a budget, plan out your life, assign accounts, add expenses or income, create goals, or monitor your progress, and spending habits. Log into PHFCUOnline and get started.
Identify All Sources of Income & Expenses
To identify your income, list your annual take-home pay, which is the amount you receive from your paycheck after taxes and deductions are taken out. If you have any other sources of income from a second job or interest earned, include these items. Finally, add all of the money coming in for the year and divide that figure by 12 to learn your average monthly income.
Typically, there are three types of expenses…
Fixed expenses are the same every month. For example, fixed expenses include your rent or mortgage amount, your car payments, or your internet service and streaming subscriptions.
Variable expenses also occur every month, but typically their payment amounts change. This can include groceries, utility payments like electricity and water, or gas for your car.
Irregular expenses can occur once a year, once a quarter, or not at all. In essence, an expected irregular expense would be something like your car insurance or property taxes. Furthermore, an unexpected expense would be something like a car repair, you may need new eyeglasses, your house needed a plumbing repair, or perhaps you had to go to the emergency room.
First, begin by listing fixed expenses you pay every month. For variable expenses, come up with an average of the monthly amount you spend. Next, add your annual irregular expenses. Each month, set aside a small amount to cover irregular expenses so you will have money available if something happens.
Automate Your Expenses
Have your bills automatically paid and your savings automatically transferred. The more you automate, the more consistent you can be. Additionally, you will have less stress by making payments on time. Set up automatic payments with PHFCUOnline.
How Much Debt Do You Have?
Make a goal to pay off debt first. Paying off bills requires baby steps and every little step helps. For example, you have several credit cards that are nearly maxed and one of the credit cards has a $250 balance. Regardless of the APR (interest rate; Annual Percentage Rate), pay off that card first. Make the biggest payment on this one credit card while making a minimum payment on all of your other bills. Once the $250 balance is paid in full, put that card away and work on your next chunk of debt.
Financial Freedom Means Getting Rid of Stuff
Stuff is essentially that- stuff. Do you really need it or was it something you always wanted? For everything you no longer use or have never used, consider having a garage sale or selling the items online. Consider this- would a life experience that you have always wanted to do be better than keeping that possession that is in front of you. Can you sell the items to be one step closer out of debt?
Banish Bad Credit With Good Habits
Unfortunately, when you have debt, it’s easy to fall into a pattern where you develop bad credit. The good news is that as you improve your money habits, your credit will also improve.
- Make all of your payments on time (including your medical, loan, and utility bills). Bills that go unpaid may go to a collection department, which could seriously hurt your score.
- Keep your charge card usage low. If you do carry a balance, don’t let it exceed 30% of your limit.
- Avoid opening too many new accounts at once. New accounts lower your average account age, which makes up part of your score.
- Keep accounts open for as long as possible unless one of your unused cards has an annual fee.
- Check each of your reports annually for errors and discrepancies. You can get your free credit report yearly from Annual Credit Report.
Overall, repairing bad credit will take time and planning. If you want more help, consider talking to Pearl Hawaii’s loan officers who are trained in helping you. Remember, improving your standing won’t happen overnight. To learn more about credit reports and scores, check out Credit FAQs.
Use Your Money to Live Life | Financial Freedom
Finally, after your debts are paid off and you have cut the extras out of your budget, think about what will give you a greater quality of life. Is it going on a trip that you have always wanted to go on? Perhaps, you want to hire someone to do your yard work or clean your house? What is taking you away from what you prefer to be doing? Once you begin living for yourself and not stressing daily, you will experience financial freedom.
From home or car loans to Hawaii’s most innovative banking services, Pearl Hawaii is committed to you. Bank at any of our Oahu locations in Waipahu, Ewa Beach, Waianae, Honolulu, Pearl Harbor, or near the Airport. Additionally, you can bank using PHFCUOnline just like one of our branches. To contact us, call us at 808.737.4328, toll-free at 800.987.5583, or email us at MyFamily@phfcu.com.