Finances can be stressful, no matter how old you are.
After all, recent studies show that nearly 75% of all Americans rank finances as their number one stress in life.
Younger generations are even more panicked, as 81% of millennials admit they’re worried about their financial health.
If you find yourself in a similar position, you’re not alone.
But here’s the thing: stress often begets more stress. To combat the fear and build stability, it’s necessary to have a financial game plan.
It’s not about “fixing” anything or trying to become “perfect.” It’s simply about following a few guidelines to help put you on the path to financial freedom.
Here are three key financial priorities for you to consider:
1. Strengthen Your Credit History
It’s important to have a strong credit history. After all, credit is one of the most useful financial tools. It’s what gives you access to products like personal loans, auto loans, and mortgages. With a strong credit history, you’ll not only be able to access those products, but you’ll be able to get better rates on each of them.
For example, a strong credit history can help lower your auto insurance rates. Studies show that drivers with good credit will spend $2,500 less per year than drivers with “poor” credit.
Plus, with good credit, you’ll gain a competitive advantage when applying for a mortgage.
According to the Consumer Financial Protection Board, “The better your credit history, the more likely you are to receive a good interest rate on your mortgage loan.”
The question is, how do you strengthen your credit?
- Start by getting a free copy of your credit report. Federal law allows Americans to get a free copy of their credit report every year from each of the three reporting agencies.
Click here to get your copy.
Once you receive your credit report, comb through it and ensure there are no errors or fraud. And if you do identify any mistakes, click here to report them.
- Always pay your bills on time. This is the most vital part of the process.
Your payment history is the biggest factor in your credit score. And while on-time payments help boost your credit history, missed payments directly bring them down.
Consistency is the secret to building a strong credit history.
- Ask your landlord to report timely rent payments. This can be especially helpful if you’re new to credit.
If you consistently pay your rent on time, ask your landlord to report the payments to the credit bureaus.
According to recent studies, renters who reported their rent payments saw their credit scores rise an average of 16 points.
Note: A secured credit card can also be a great way to establish and grow your credit history.
To check out some of the best-rated secured cards in 2022, click here.
2. Pay Down Debts
Debt is the arch nemesis of a healthy financial life.
As Benjamin Franklin wrote, “Rather go to bed without dinner than to rise in debt.”
But here’s the thing: debt is a part of life. Credit cards and loans are all valuable debt instruments, and when properly managed, they help people chase their dreams.
It’s excessive debt that’s the problem.
When we get overextended — i.e. when we borrow more than we can pay back — we get buried in debt.
Remember: getting out of debt is a marathon, not a sprint. So don’t put too much pressure on yourself to fix it all in one day.
Start by choosing a powerful debt-eradicating strategy that you feel comfortable following through all seasons of life.
While there are many strategies to consider, here are three to pique your curiosity:
- There’s the Dave Ramsey “Snowball Method,” which encourages you to pay down your smallest debts first. Through this approach, you’ll progressively tackle larger debts until you get out of the red.
The snowball method is a great way to start small and slowly build momentum.
- On the flip side, there’s the “Debt Avalanche” method. Unlike the snowball approach, this method encourages you to target debts with the highest interest rates first (so you can decrease the total debt load faster).
Though it’s aggressive, this approach can help you quickly pay down your most burdensome debts.
- There’s also the “50/20/30 Rule,” where 50% of your after-tax income goes to “needs”, 20% goes to your “wants”, and the final 30% covers your outstanding debts.
Note: the 50/20/30 rule is simply a template to help you get started. You can fully customize the numbers according to your specific wants, needs, and debts.
Ultimately, when it comes to paying debts, the method you choose is less important than the manner in which you adhere to it.
So pick a plan, adjust your expenses, and try to stick with it month in and month out.
3. Open a Low-Fee Online Bank Account
Financial technology is making it easier than ever to save money.
On the one hand, budgeting tools and round-up apps are helping people structure their finances and save money every time they spend it.
Better yet, with the rise of digital banking, consumers can finally kiss punitive fees goodbye.
You know the kind: monthly checking account fees and overdraft fees, which cost consumers over $12.4 billion in 2020 alone.
Digital banking not only eliminates these costly fees, but it also rewards people with better interest rates. So when you put your money in an online-only bank, it actually has a chance to grow — rather than stagnate in a traditional bank, where interest rates are a measly .06 percent.
When you’re trying to strengthen your credit and pay down debts, every dollar counts. With digital banks, you can protect and grow your money without ever worrying about fees.
At uLink, we’re dedicated to supporting your financial health by providing great exchange rates and fees starting as low as $0.
uLink also helps you pay your family’s bills. You can take care of your loved ones’ electricity, water, gas, internet, phone bills, and much more within two business days and with just a few taps on the uLink Money Transfer App available on Google Play or on the App Store. Click here to learn more!
Miles from home — just moments away with uLink.