5 ways to feel more confident about your money at every life stage

A few simple rules can help you build your money confidence—the first step in securing a more solid financial future for yourself and your family. These 5 small steps can help you lay the groundwork on which to build your dreams and are simple enough to get started today.

1. Decide what you want your money to do for you.

To make your dreams a reality, you need a plan to pay for them. The first step is setting your goals. What do you want most? A college fund for your kids? An early retirement? Maybe a vacation home near that little stretch of beach where you honeymooned? Prioritise your goals as either critical, need, or want, and make them specific and actionable—if they’re too abstract, it will be too easy to deviate from them. Once you know what you want, you can plan how to make it happen.

Do this today: Write down your goal. Research shows that people who do this are more than 40% more likely to turn goals into reality. So grab a pen and paper and describe your dream.

2. Prepare accordingly for an emergency.

What would happen if you were laid off from work today? Or your doctor called with worrisome test results? Make sure you have a plan for if the unthinkable happens. You can consider different insurance coverages, but it’s also a good idea to build an emergency stash.

Do this today: Build a buffer that protects your goal savings. A good rule of thumb is 3–6 months of living expenses. If that’s daunting, start small and build from there.

3. Pay down debts.

Do credit card bills get in the way of your long-term financial goals? If you have a lot of credit card or student loan debt, consolidating might help simplify rates so you can pay off the debt quicker.

Do this today: Figure out which of your debts has the highest interest rate. Then you can target that balance first, paying off as much as you’re able to every month.

4. Stick to a simple budget.

If setting a monthly budget is one of those things you know you’re supposed to do, but you keep putting off—stop delaying. The trick is making a plan you can stick to over time.

Do this today: Examine your bank statements and make a quick list of what you spend each month on non-essentials like your gym membership, takeout, and cable. If you’re paying monthly bills for anything you don’t use regularly, that can be your first easy cut.

5. Make saving for retirement a breeze.

Don’t let worries about your future keep you up at night—make a plan instead. Getting started is relatively easy. 

Do this today: Review the contributions you’re making to your savings fund. Did you get a raise? Were you able to make cuts on other expenses? Increase your retirement contributions accordingly and check in with a financial professional to make sure you’re staying on track.

Financial planning doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Research shows that people who spend even a small amount of time learning about personal finance are 75% more confident in their financial future, so you’re already on your way