April was financial literacy month. Each year, lenders, financial educators, and investment teams send out content during financial literacy month designed to help people learn more about their money and manage it more effectively. If you missed financial literacy month, though, don’t fear! You can still undo bad money habits and make your way through the rest of the year in a better financial place.
Here are four smart money tips from Dealing With Debt to help you do just that.
1. Stop Spending More Than You Make
Living beyond your means is one of the most devastating money habits. It’s also one of the most common. Right now, about 50% of Americans live beyond their means. These families and individuals don’t have anything left for retirement, savings, investments, or emergencies.
If you want to stop this toxic money habit, the first step is to cut your spending and start building an emergency savings fund. Check out a budgeting app like You Need a Budget to get you started.
2. Stop Accumulating Debt
Personal debt is an issue that faces many American households Today, the average U.S. household has about $16,000 in credit card debt. If debt loads get high enough, they can start to impede other financial goals – like savings or investments.
To battle this habit, start by paying off short-term debt like credit cards. If you can’t deal with the debt on your own, look into debt relief options that will help you consolidate the amount you owe. Crushing debt is one of the first steps to financial freedom.
3. Put Your Savings to Work for You
If you’re saving money in an emergency fund, that money should be working as hard as possible for you. To this end, consider transferring the balance of your emergency fund into a high-yield account.
These accounts are offered by online banks like Marcus and Ally. Some of these accounts offer an APY as high as 2.25% – significantly greater than you’d find at a traditional bank or credit union.
4. Stop Ignoring Your Credit Score
Your credit score is a critical part of your financial life. If you want to keep it as healthy as possible, you’ve got to monitor it frequently. Today, credit cards issued by organizations like Discover and Chase offer built-in credit monitoring features. You should also know what you can do to improve your credit score – from lowering your debt load to making all your payments on time.
5. Start Educating Yourself
Money is a learned skill. While lots of people feel shame around money, you can only get better at it by seeking to actively learn about it. This means signing up for some financial literacy courses, reading some books on investing, or working with a service like The Financial Gym to improve your money management habits.
It’s never too late to celebrate financial literacy month. These five tips are an excellent place to start taking control of your money and growing your wealth!