Here is a preview of what you'll find at the Economic Survival Fair on February 5, by guest blogger Jeremy Lushene. Jeremy is a Financial Educator for the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions.
How can everyone in Thurston County build a sustainable financial future? Regardless of race, gender, or income?
When asked to write this blog, I thought long and hard about this question. Sifting through my thoughts I realized it all comes down to three things. Building a sustainable financial future takes vision, effort and dedication.
Do you know how you want your money to work for you? If you don’t, chances are you are not using the money available as efficiently as possible. Money is a finite resource; decide how you want it to work for you.
Start by setting some goals. Short term, medium term, and long term. For example, maybe you want to purchase a home within 10 years. Or you’d like to retire comfortably by age 65. Set the goal. Write it down. Give it a date.
Next, plan. Ask any athlete, in order to obtain goals you need to plan. In the financial world, this means developing a financial plan and creating a budget. I know I know. It’s not as easy as it sounds. But from personal experience, I can tell you it’s really satisfying to know that I’m making my money work for me. This isn’t to say you can’t have fun. Plan for fun! Just don’t break the bank doing it.
Your financial plan and monthly budget should be your roadmap to achieving your financial goals. There are credit counselors and financial planners who can help - check out http://www.nfcc.org/ to find one near you.
Just like when trying to achieve most things in life, you’ll need to put in effort. To build a sustainable financial future, you’ll need to build assets. In order to build assets, you need to generate income. This means working and choosing the right financial products to help you build assets.
You’ll also need to live a sustainable lifestyle. Look, you can’t spend more than you earn. Most of the lifestyles you see on TV or read about in magazines are not sustainable. Fun, but not sustainable. Budget for a sustainable lifestyle that includes a little fun. Love that mocha a day? Budget for it. Would you like to attend a Mariners game? Give up that mocha a day and you can swing for tickets. You may need to sacrifice sometimes. The important thing to remember is to build assets, you need to spend less than you earn.
Let your money earn money. Choosing the right financial products and investments can help you build and even more assets: Savings accounts, investments, etc. Work with a financial planner to choose products that align with your goals. And never put all your eggs in one basket.
Plan for unexpected events. Things happen, so financially plan for them. It’s a good idea to set aside three to six months of living expenses in a liquid (easy to access) savings account. If you do not have an emergency savings account, this should be one of your first financial goals.
You absolutely have to keep with it. There will always be things you want that you can’t afford. That’s life. If there is something you really want - budget and plan for it.
Pay yourself first. Make it a habit to put money from your income into building assets each month. If possible, look into automatic transfers. Talk with your local bank or credit union.
Correcting money mistakes. We all make mistakes, it’s human. Overspend your budget? Dust yourself off and move forward. No one’s perfect - especially with money. Learn from your mistakes and make corrections.
Review and adjust your goals. Things change. And so should your financial goals. Go back through the process. Envision your goal. Put in effort. Stick to it.
Locally you can turn to the Thurston County Asset Building Coalition for help, http://www.thurstonabc.org/. The Thurston County Asset Building Coalition sponsors free financial education classes and can help connect you to local resources.
Take care, keep your head up, set your goals, you can do this.