No matter if you’re a college student or a CEO, knowing how to manage your money is a skill you can always fine-tune. Take a look at these 6 crucial financial rules to live by—you can thank yourself later.
Start saving for retirement as early as possible.
If your employer offers a matching 401(k) program, always opt in. If they don’t have a matching program or you work for yourself, create a Roth 401(k) or Roth IRA to begin growing your retirement savings. With a Roth account, you contribute after-tax dollars so you don’t have to pay any taxes when you take it out down the road.
Create an emergency fund.
No matter where you are on the financial spectrum, it’s crucial to have an emergency fund. Sock away three months worth of expenses—including rent, groceries, gas, and any other essential purchases. If that level of savings seems impossible right now, aim for a $1,000 emergency padding.
Pay off debt in order of highest interest to lowest interest.
Whether it’s credit card debt or student loans, work on paying off whichever loan has the highest interest rate first. Going one at a time will make your debt more manageable and cost you less in accrued interest at the end of the day.
Follow the 50/20/30 rule.
When it comes to setting a budget, don’t spend more than 50% of your after-tax income on Needs. This includes any monthly bills, food, and transportation. Put 20% of your income in savings, and then use the last 30% on Wants. This will put you on track for a financially stable future.
Set small goals in between large ones.
It’s great to dream big, but make sure to reward yourself in between those large goals. If you’re saving to buy a car, allow yourself to purchase fun seat covers for your new set of wheels once you’ve saved up a third of the money you need. Incentivizing good habits worked as a kid and it also works as an adult!
Avoid taking out a loan on something that loses interest.
Your education never depreciates—but your car does. Try to only take out loans for things that are a good investment, like a house or graduate school, and avoid borrowing money for items that lose value over time.