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Tips to maintain your financial health

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Wanda Naylor

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By Wanda Naylor

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Maintaining your financial health isn’t always easy. Here are some tips to keep you on the right track.

1. Watch your debt. Remember debt that produces assets — things that pay you — can be good debt. Debt that produces a liability is bad debt, especially on depreciating assets (cars or boats) or consumables (food, gas or clothes put on credit cards).

2. It does not take much to live if you have no debt.

3. Do not start to live like the 78 percent of Americans who live paycheck-to-paycheck. Always save, always invest and always give some away.

4. Failure is never a noun that names a person unless they accept it. Most of us will fail at something (failing is a verb which defines our actions, not who we are). The folks who become successful will get up, brush off their seats and go to work again using the six inches between their ears.

5. Serious and difficult economic times are facing you. Learn to conserve now: your assets, your finances, your relationships and the earth. Vow to make a difference … stop the plastic, walk rather than ride, share your meals, remember a dollar spent is forever gone. A dollar invested, compounded over time, grows exponentially.

6. Begin the habit of putting the maximum amount allowed into your retirement account, 401K or IRA. If you never see the money, you will never miss it. It grows tax deferred or tax free. If your company does up to a 3 percent match, that is 100 percent return on your money.

7. Plan B … never be without it. Always have a six to eight month emergency fund account. Learn a new skill to add to your resume every month. Keep your resume updated. It should always be improving. Always be ready.

8. Remember most CEO’s started at the bottom. Move the pile of rocks with enthusiasm and to the best of your ability. Someone is always watching. Giving your best is your only job security. Give the person who pays you more than his money’s worth and it will pay off.

9. Learn the markets … stock markets, oil markets, real estate markets. Invest in them but never forget there are two directions in them all — up and down — and don’t forget flat or sideways. Money can be made in all markets in all directions. You just have to learn how.

10. Knowledge is free in America. Most people just never bother to learn or are too lazy to teach themselves. They expect someone else to take care of them. Not going to happen in your lifetime. Social security will go bust. The stock market will have other serious declines. Be prepared and be smart.

11. Protect your No. 1 financial asset: your credit score and report. It affects your interest rate, your ability to get insurance and whether or not you can borrow (use leverage) to buy assets that pay you. It also may be the turning point in that dream job. Lock it to protect it.

12. Never live off credit (food, eating out, gas, rent, cellphone, clothes). If you don’t have the money to buy it, don’t buy it. Use the three rule: have to need it three times before you buy it. Lots of money will stay in your pocket. This will stop impulse buying or “makes me feel better to spend” purchases that you only enjoy until the bills show up.

13. Save 1/10 at least, invest 1/10 at least. Tithe or give away 1/10 at least. Compounding is a universal concept, Make sure you are never one paycheck from bankruptcy. Illness happens, cancer happens, death happens, job loss happens. Be prepared.

14. Stick to a budget. A budget will show where your money is going. Depending on when you are paid, you may decide on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly budget. You need a budget regardless of how much you earn a year.

Wanda Naylor teaches in the Finance Department at ECU.

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