What Is Financial Security?
Financial security refers to the peace of mind you feel when you aren't worried about your income being enough to cover your expenses. It also means that you have enough money saved to cover emergencies and your future financial goals. When you are financially secure, your stress levels goes down, leaving you free to focus on other issues.
Budgeting for Success
Feeling financially secure requires knowing what your assets and liabilities are, as well as how your income compares to your expenses. If you aren't tracking these, you might not know you're struggling, but that's like an ostrich sticking its head in the sand and hoping for the best. For true financial security, create a budget that addresses both your current needs, like food, clothing and shelter, and your long-term goals, like paying down debt and saving. You should also include insurance to cover the what-ifs in life.
Prioritizing Long-Term Goals
Pay yourself first, recommends Kiplinger, when it comes to making your budget. No, that doesn't mean take the first fruits of your paycheck and go out to eat. Instead, it means make sure you're setting aside money for long-range goals, like an education fund for your kids, a down payment for a future home or a retirement account for your golden years. If you're struggling to find enough remaining money to pay down debt, look for discretionary expenses that you can cut.
Building an Emergency Fund
Whether you call it an emergency account, your safe money or a rainy day fund, setting aside several months worth of living expenses is critical for your financial security. That way, when something unexpected like a job loss, refrigerator breaking down, or a child having to go to the hospital pops up, you have the funds to deal with it rather than having to go into debt, especially high interest debt like a payday loan or a balance on your credit card.
Tracking Long-Term Goals
You can't just set it and forget it when it comes to your budget. Instead, your budget requires maintenance and fine tuning over time to make sure you're adhering to your goals. For example, if you haven't been tracking your spending in the past, you might think you're only spending $100 a month eating out, but could be spending two or three times that amount if you're not tracking it. If you need help staying on top of your money, consider financial software like Quicken that can put all your accounts in one place so you can manage your money easier.