Most primary and secondary schools in the United States don’t require any sort of personal finance course in their curriculums, and because finance doesn’t come naturally to many, the lack of financial knowledge can make managing money difficult as an adult. How to manage money is often learned through trial and error, which is not ideal for establishing a solid financial foundation.
So how do you learn good financial habits before making too many costly mistakes? The answer is through a little self-education. Below are a few tips on how you can teach yourself to save money, create a budget, learn the basics of investing, and other skills that help you successfully manage your money in the short and long term.
Good vs. Bad Financial Habits
The first step in financial education is learning about your personal financial situation, which includes breaking bad habits and establishing good ones.
Bad financial habits have long-lasting ramifications to your overall financial health. While they may be hard to break, it’s important to identify your weaknesses and work toward making them strengths. Some bad financial habits include:
- Accruing credit card debt
- Not prioritizing saving for retirement
- Using shopping as an outlet for emotional stress such as boredom or sadness
- Making impulse purchases
- Not sticking to a budget (or not even creating one)
- Failure to set aside money for savings
Establishing healthy financial habits is important at any age, but the sooner you can identify and implement them into your routine, the better. Some examples of good financial habits include:
- Creating a budget (and sticking to it)
- Living below your means
- Paying off debt in a timely manner
- Establishing an emergency fund
- Reviewing monthly bank statements for inconsistencies
- Tracking expenses
- Maximizing contributions into a 401(k) plan
While some of these habits will require time to break or establish, it’s important to understand your own habits so you can work towards a more fruitful financial future. Without understanding where you currently stand, you won’t be able to learn how to improve.
DIY Personal Finance
Whether you’re looking for quick videos and tips to better understand how to budget, or need extensive financial training, there are options available for every situation. If you’re unsure of what to do, here are some tips to get you started:
- Search the internet for a well-trained educator in your area. Websites like Yelp can help you find a financial advisor nearby, and Nextdoor is great for local recommendations.
- Watch YouTube and TikTok videos from experts on specific topics, like mutual funds, retirement funds, investments, debt or budgeting. Many are free, and some of the best include the Financial Diet, Break Your Budget and His and Her Money.
- Listen to a personal finance podcast. Investopedia has a list of 10 recommended podcasts, including The Dave Ramsey Show, The Clark Howard Podcast, Women and Money, So Money, and more. Episodes are released on a daily or weekly basis and range from 10 minutes to an hour long.
- Premium LinkedIn users can enroll in free online classes through LinkedIn Learning. Their extensive subscription library includes expert instructors for a variety of topics, and training sessions can be minutes to days long, depending on the subject. Luckily, the content is broken down into digestible chapters and categories, so you can learn on your own time.
Slavic401k Personal Finance Resources
Whether you’re learning for yourself, or looking to teach your children responsible financial habits, we have easily accessible blog content that can help you learn how to manage your money efficiently and effectively. Some notable blogs include:
- Budgeting 101: Understanding the 50/30/20 Rule – This blog covers three main components of a budget, which include dividing your income into categories like essential spending, desired spending, and savings. By dedicating portions of your income to specific categories, users of the 50/30/20 rule establish financial discipline and can meet realistic savings goals without the stress of overspending or falling behind on bills.
- Teaching Kids How to Save at Every Age – Whether your toddler is learning shapes and numbers, or your teen is prepping for college, there are valuable money lessons kids can learn at every age. This blog provides tips and resources available from infancy to adulthood and can help you establish a learning path for the young, moldable minds in your life.
- Emergency Funds 101 – While we may not learn this in school, life happens, and when it does, it’s important to be prepared. Emergency funds are additional savings accounts that people set aside for unexpected events, such as medical bills or job loss. By establishing a savings plan, people that know how to handle an emergency fund will be better prepared in case something unexpected happens.
- 5 Financial Apps that Make Your Life Easier – There are multiple financial apps available to help you track your savings and spending, while also managing bills, debt payoff and more. In this blog, we provide five of our favorite apps to use to help you conquer all things finance.
- 401k 101: A Glossary Guide – This guide will familiarize you with common terms, such as auto-enrollment, beneficiary, capital gains and more so you have a better understanding of your finances.
- Retirement Calculator – Plan out your retirement by using our calculator to determine how much you should be saving.
The positives that come with financial education are endless and undeniable. When you have a solid understanding of finances and how to manage them, better savings habits are established, responsibility is heightened, and you will likely accrue less debt and save more for retirement over time.
Whether you’re watching a YouTube video, taking a finance class, or reading blog content, there are endless resources available to you to help you understand and manage your finances.
The Slavic401k blog has ongoing financial education tools at your fingertips. We offer calculators, financial education, and tips to help you achieve your financial goals.