Do you ever wish you had a brighter financial future? Of course, you do. About half of American families currently live paycheck to paycheck, making it seemingly impossible to ever do more than break even. Even people from the half with extra money in the bank may need help securing better financial times for their future selves.
Wealth is a common component of the American dream, but if you don’t have much knowledge or experience in personal finance, it may seem impossible to achieve. Fortunately, we live in an era of technological prosperity, where tech resources are plentifully available to anyone with an internet connection (or by extension, a library card).
If you’re able to harness some of these tech tools, to raise your awareness, gain new knowledge, and hold yourself accountable for simple lifestyle changes, you can completely rewrite your financial future.
The Technology You Need
These pieces of technology are all it takes for you to build higher awareness and plot the next steps of your financial journey:
- A credit score calculator. Credit impacts your life in more ways than you probably realize. Not only does it affect whether you’re able to get a mortgage or other loan (and what terms you get when you apply), it could even impact your ability to rent, and in some cases, your job prospects. The first thing you should do on your new financial journey is to use a credit score calculator to figure out your approximate credit score. This is based on factors like available credit, payment history, and the amount of time spent building credit. You can use this score to self-audit your situation, and identify the main points of your financial standing that require correction or development. This is the first step to secure your financial future.
- A budgeting app. No matter what your financial goals are, you’ll need a budget in place to achieve them. Budgets help you understand how much money you have coming in, how to allocate those funds to different categories (like housing or groceries) and what you can do to save up more money in the future. You can technically draft a budget on paper for the same effect, but modern budgeting apps like Mint and Goodbudget are better alternatives for beginners. They’re intuitive and easy to use, and they’ll hold you accountable for maintaining good budget habits indefinitely.
- A financial blog. Next, you’ll want to scout for some valuable blogs, podcasts, or video series that cover topics related to personal finance. Kiplinger has a good list to get you started, but don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Different blogs cover different niche topics, focus on different target audiences (including familiarity levels), and offer different perspectives and tones of voice, so take your time and find a blog that seems like a good fit for you, personally.
- Online communities (and social influencers). Finally, you’ll want to scout for online communities where you can talk about your progress and learn from others’ experiences and mistakes. You can find these in online forums like Reddit, or in social media groups. It’s especially helpful to target a handful of key “influencers” who seem to know a lot about the topic, and follow them for regular updates.
Even knowing that all the information you need to secure your financial future is at your fingertips, it can be intimidating to start a new financial plan, or venture into this unfamiliar territory. Here are some tips to make things easier when you’re first starting out:
- Take baby steps. Don’t try to learn everything there is to know about finance overnight; you’ll end up stressed, exhausted, and hating the idea of finance. Instead, take baby steps. Learn one thing at a time, and expose yourself to one new idea at a time. You’ll work your way up, gradually.
- Set firm goals. If you set them and stick to them properly, goals can be a powerful way to keep yourself on schedule and always moving forward. Outline an action plan that includes investigating new resources or covering specific topics in a specific order.
- Work with a buddy. Things will be far less intimidating if you’re facing them as part of a group. Find a friend or family member who’s interested in learning alongside you, and bring them along for the journey. You can hold each other accountable and motivate each other to keep going.
Building a better financial foundation doesn’t have to be intimidating, nor does it have to be stressful. With these tools available to help you learn and grow, you’ll be able to crush your existing debt, save up for a house, plan for retirement, or make progress toward virtually any financial goal you imagine.
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