Becoming financially mature is vital at any age, regardless of your situation in life. Whether you are trying to have extra money to start a family or simply want to have less stress at the end of every month, financial maturity has a major impact.
Here are some simple things you can do to become more financially mature:
Track finances throughout the month
Recurring expenses and credit card bills should be expected and planned for accordingly. Waiting until the end of the month can lead to overspending. Take advantage of an app designed to help you stay on top of your expenses if traditional pen and paper has failed you in the past.
Cancel unnecessary subscriptions
Monthly subscriptions are everywhere and if you are not careful you can rack up quite the hefty bill each month on subscriptions alone. Take stock of the services you currently subscribe to and only keep the ones that are truly worth the money. Ditch the subscriptions you don’t use and keep the ones you do.
Stay on top of small purchases
All of the little things do add up. Find ways to cut back and become more cost-effective. Turn off the A/C when you head out, be vigilant about turning off the lights or skip the expensive coffee twice a week.
Curb any retail therapy habits
You can’t buy happiness, right? Then stop running out to the store to make yourself feel better. Retail therapy should be avoided, but if you feel you must, then change the way you shop. Think of one item you actually need or set a small budget with cash. You can still enjoy a little bit of shopping, but you do need to pay attention.
Plan ahead of time for gifts
It happens to everyone — realizing at the last minute that you still need to get a gift for that party. On the way there, you end up buying the gift, gift bag and card all at an expensive shop to make up for it. Planning ahead of time will save you money, not to mention the stress. Consider having a stock of gift bags at home and write all events that need a gift on your calendar a week earlier so you’ll have time to get the gift before you go.
Cook as much as possible
No matter how economical you are about your eating options, eating out in restaurants is considerably more expensive than buying the ingredients at home. Don’t know how to cook? Check out free recipes online or even signing up for a cooking class could save you hundreds in the long run.
Make the most of your leftovers
When you do eat out, make sure to take home any leftovers and use them. You can create new dishes from the ingredients in your to-go box if you don’t want to have the same thing again. Leaving food on your table is the same as leaving money on your table.
Buy clothes you’ll actually wear
Is your closet is packed, but you never feel like you have anything to wear? Start looking for more versatile options that you actually like and feel comfortable wearing. Try some more dressy sneakers that look good with all different outfits and save money on multiple pairs. The goal is to actually get use out of the things that you buy. Always going for the discount brand that you never wear anyway will not save you money or provide a good wardrobe in the long-run.
Learn from past mistakes
Financial maturity isn’t something we are born with, you have to grow into it. It takes practice, persistence, patience and accepting that you made mistakes. Look at areas you showed weakness and start improving today. Whether you are one of the millions of Americans climbing back from debt or slowly paying off your maxed out credit cards, critically look at your past financial choices to grow.
Focus on Your Health
Neglecting going to the doctor when you’re sick will save you the copay, but you’re going to lose out in the long-run. Medical bills can pile high if you wait to address an issue. Also, when people are strapped for cash, insurance is one of the first things to go. If you’re injured at work, disability may cover you, but there are not safety nets in place if you’re suddenly injured or sick in your personal life. Pay for healthcare, and invest in your health. You’ll be thankful you did when something actually happens.
Ask the price before you buy anything
Salespeople are very good at their job and that means selling you on something before they even mention the price. Once you’ve already committed to buy, you are less likely to change your mind and admit that you can’t afford it. That’s why it’s important to ask for upfront, straightforward pricing before you consider any buying options.
Think carefully before making a purchase
Before you buy something ask yourself if you truly love it or need it. You don’t want to have a house full of things that you don’t really like. That’s money spent on things that you don’t even want anyway. When you are going to spend money, make sure it is on something you like. No need to ask yourself “what was I thinking?”
Hang on to your ‘surprise money’
People who are financially mature don’t automatically spend their tax refund, bonus or other surprise money. Instead, they are more likely to save it. If they do spend it, it will be on something worthwhile, not on an expensive pair of shoes or extravagant vacation. This is a great chance to chip away at some of your debt.