Just as we practice staying in good physical health, it’s also important to be sure we are practicing good financial health. Financial check-ups are a great way to be sure that you and your family are on the right financial track. Here are 12 tips to help get you started.
1. Track spending to know where your money goes. Identify expenses that can be reduced or eliminated—and take immediate action.
2. Expect and prepare for emergencies. Aim for six months worth of expenses set aside in a liquid account.
3. If housing costs are too high, consider downsizing, renting or home sharing with friends or family members.
4. Communicate about family finances regularly with your spouse or partner, and any of your children you feel are old enough to be involved.
5. Do not try to “keep up with the Joneses (or the Kardashians).”
6. Explore nanny share care, babysitting co-ops, and subsidized daycare. Childcare is the single largest expense for most working parents, so investigate all reasonable options.
7. Explore whether you would be financially better off if one parent were to be a “stay at home” or a “work from home” parent.
8. Unless you have endless funds, accept that you can’t buy everything you want for your child. This is often harder than it sounds.
9. Remember that you are the single greatest role model in your child’s financial education. He or she will remember everything, from arguments about money to how you deal with debt. Teach them good habits now. Jolt's Spark Savers Kids Club and AMP Teen Club accounts are a great place to start.
10. Pay for unreimbursed medical expenses and dependent care with pretax dollars using a flexible savings account. Check with your employer for availability.
11. Commit yourself to spending within your means. A line of credit should never be confused with an emergency fund or extra income.
12. Remember, you are not being “cheap” for the sake of saving a few dollars. You are being “frugal” for the well being of your family over the long term, and will come out ahead by doing so.
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