Building Blocks for Financial Health

It’s not always easy to know where you are on the path of achieving your financial goals. Let’s take a look at 7 elements that make up financial wellness to help get you started.

Income

Your after-tax earnings is the best way to calculate income. Once you understand how  much you make, you need to spend less than you bring in. If you find your wallet empty at the end of each month, ask yourself what spending can be reigned in.

Spending

Of course you have bills, utilities and needs that must be met, but what about discretionary spending? Are you using a budgeting tool to help manage your finances? There are several free online tools to help manage your spending. Living under your means is the biggest contributor to financial well-being.

Debt

Debt is the sum of items you owe on such as student loans and mortgage balances. Not all debt is bad, but if you have high interest rates they can eat up your income. Once you quantify your debt load, make a plan to pay it off.

Emergency Fund

An emergency fund is just a term for savings that will cushion you in the event of a financial hardship. Let’s say you lose your job or are in an accident where you can’t work for a while. A savings of at least three months will be a good start to keeping you afloat until things get better.

Credit Score

Your credit score is crucial to your financial health. It shows if you are financially responsible or not to those who can lend you money. Your score is based on factors like purchase history, credit utilization, and on-time payments. This score determines whether you’ll be approved for loans as well as the interest rate you’ll receive. To build your credit score, pay all of your bills on time and aim to pay your credit card balance in full each month.

Retirement savings

No one wants to work their whole life, so are you setting aside money for retirement? Typically saving 10-15% of your income in a 401(k) or IRA is the best way to reach for the goal of retirement. As you age compounding interest will work in your favor, but you may need to save more if you start later in life.

Your insurance

Do you have enough insurance coverage? Insurance can be the barrier to financial ruin. When large disruptions occur, insurance is there to lessen the blow. Most find that they are under-insured. Depending on your assets and family situation, your insurance coverage might include car insurance, homeowners or renters insurance and life insurance. Be sure your coverage amounts are higher than the value of your assets.