No one wants to feel like they’re scrambling for money every month, especially if they’re already working full-time and struggling to maintain a healthy work-life balance. However, that seems to be a common occurrence in today’s world of high spending and even higher debt.
Despite the current financial climate, there are many simple ways anyone can improve their financial literacy. We asked a panel of Forbes Finance Council members to share a few of their favorite tactics.
1. Use Your Debit Card Only
As a finance professional, this answer may seem unusual, but I found that, by getting rid of all my credit cards, I changed my spending habits dramatically. The nature of a credit card is that you end up spending more freely and being less disciplined with finances. Using only a debit card has made me much more frugal. – Tyler Gallagher, Regal Assets
2. Be Mindful Of Interest
When it comes to debt, people don’t realize how much one item actually costs with compounded interest. Large purchases like buying a home can cost more than you think once interest is calculated. Interest is a huge drain on personal income. Be mindful of when you can avoid interest and not just meet the monthly payment. – Sal Rehmetullah, Fattmerchant
3. Meticulously Measure Your Cash Flow
The best and quickest way to improve anything is to measure it. For example, monitor where every dollar is being spent, then dig into the detail of splitting out categories and evaluating if each purchase was really necessary. When you then do your monthly totals of cash in versus cash out, you can see the trends in your spending and adjust according to your goals. You have to track it, and then you can improve it. – Khurram Chohan, Together CFO
4. Read This One Book
Financial success is very easy if you follow some basic principles. Live within your means, use compounding to your advantage and focus on building a legacy that provides for others you care about. All of this and more is covered in the book Simple Wealth, Inevitable Wealth, by Nick Murray. Read it, do it and reap the benefits. Debt will never be an issue again. – Erik Christman, Oxford Financial Partners
5. Subscribe To A Finance/Money Podcast
In today’s busy world, people don’t always have time to read a finance book or take an online course, but millions of people have a commute to work, and they can use that time to follow a financial podcast like the Dave Ramsey show or Stacking Benjamins. It’s a terrific way to begin learning about financial and investment concepts. – Danielle Kunkle Roberts, Boomer Benefits
6. Pay Down Debt Before Saving At Lower Returns
Though it’s important to save, many have credit card debt or loans that are charging higher interest fees than one would earn by placing money in savings accounts, CDs or other vehicles. Remember, if you’re earning a lower interest rate on the money you’re saving versus the interest rates you’re paying on debt, consider paying down your debt before maximizing your savings. – Sina Azari, PRESENT FinancialPartners
7. Read The Terms And Conditions Carefully
A lot of people apply for credit cards without reading the fine print or knowing what the interest rate is on the credit cards. Most Americans aren’t able to pay off their entire credit card balances at once. For those who carry a balance, make sure you read the fine print to see what the penalties are and what the finance charges are on the balance that’s carried over. – Ben Jen, Ben Jen Holdings SLLC