If this last year has taught me anything, it’s that although money shouldn’t matter, it does. I used to struggle with money a lot, and although I am over most obstacles that I have had to face and am now financially stable, there will always be something that will turn up unexpectedly.
The last two years have been a rollercoaster for my career and my ability to stay financially stable, but last year I hit a low. Unemployment hit me hard and I had to stretch out every penny I could to get by. Though I am much better for it now, there is so much about money that I have taken on board so that if anything knocks me sideways again, I will be ready to deal with it and I will remain financially stable.
Is it too late to become financially stable?
At 24, I already feel keeping myself financially stable is something I should have prepared for years ago. I wish so much that I had been educated about money in high school. Though as a teenager I would have probably been uninterested, I would have left feeling with more knowledge on how to get by.
This is all I knew: In order to live, you need to get a job and earn money. There may have been a few small things surrounding this, that was the gist of it. I also thought that going to university was my best choice for getting a good career. I now know better, but this lack of information has led me down an emotional road that I wish I didn’t have to go through. Regardless, I don’t believe it is too late. I just think I have a bit of catching up to do.
The struggle isn’t the problem. I believe we need to struggle somewhat to fully appreciate the things we have in life. Pain makes you stronger, but there is a difference between working hard and surviving just fine and swimming against a tide. This week I want to talk about ways to keep yourself financially stable now as well as what you can be doing to be prepared for the future.
How can I become Financially Stable?
I can’t fix your problems, I’m not a qualified expert, but I can tell you the things I have done in the last year that have helped me get my life back on track and give myself a healthier mindset on staying financially stable in the future.
1. Divide your finances
I have recently come to learn that being with one bank hasn’t always been my best choice in life. Though I have two accounts under the same bank, it’s too easy for me to transfer my savings back into my graduate account and spend it. I needed to split my money in order to stay financially stable.
I now have four bank accounts for different purposes. I am still with my current bank, but I have also joined Monzo and Starling. My current bank is where my paycheck goes in and my bills go out and my eSavings account has a small amount deposited into it every month for a rainy day.
I plan to transfer a budgeted amount from my graduate to my Monzo account each month to be used for shopping, dining out, and other activities. This means I’m still enjoying life, but I’m not allowed to go overboard. Once that money is gone, that’s it.
Starling is a special account. I have always wanted to travel, but saving for it has always been a struggle. With a Starling debit card, you can spend abroad for free, and the app allows you to create “goals” for your money to be stored until you reach the desired amount. I’m almost halfway through my Italy goal, where Larry and I will be heading later this year.
2. Have minimal money months to stay financially stable
If you haven’t read my articles around Money Free MarchMoney Free March, I suggest you do if you want to give it a go. Though I have a set spending budget each month, that number will change depending on what I can afford. To make it easier, I’m continuing to have months that are quite similar Money Free March.
3. Learn to say no
Something I have carried with me since Money Free March is the importance of saying no. There are some things in life that are not as important as it is to remain financially stable. I used to have this naive approach to money. I would think to myself “Oh, well I have been paid this much money this month, therefore I deserve to buy this handbag”.
This really isn’t the case. Though it’s not wrong for you to treat yourself once in a while, it is also very easy for this “treat” to become a bad habit. If you want to stay financially stable, you need to keep asking yourself if you really need whatever it is that you are tempted to buy.
4. Start Investing to be financially stable in the future
“Wait a minute Lacey, aren’t we supposed to be saving money here?”
Keeping yourself financially stable is about saving where you can, yes, but a saving and making an investment are not exactly two worlds apart. I want to go into further detail about this at some point, but I think it is extremely important to get thinking about your pension.
If you are earning above £5,876 a year, you will be part of auto-enrolment. If you aren’t already aware, this is essentially a minimum contribution to be paid into your pension by you and your employer every month, but it’s a good idea to be saving on top of this as well. There are some options available for you to remain financially stable during retirement, and I believe that it is never too soon to take this into consideration.
5. Think about other investments
At some point in your life, you will probably want to buy a house. In order to get that house, you will need a deposit. You may not be in the position to be saving a lot at the minute, but a little can go a long way. It’s a good idea to ask around for the best saving options available.
The way I see it is this: If you can afford a Netflix subscription, you can afford to pay £5 a month for a help to buy ISA. This goes back to thinking about what you can do without. If you want to be as prepared as possible, and with interest rates currently being a big concern for investors, then perhaps it’s time to rethink your current investments if you want to be financially stable in the future.
Have your say
Do you have any advice for staying financially stable? Whether we like it or not, money matters, and being in a bad financial situation can be terrible for your mental and physical health. I really hope some of you found this useful. As mentioned, I’m no expert, but these are based on my own learning curves and choices that I have made over the years that have had an impact on how I handle my finances.