January 30, 2023 | Article | 5 min Personal insights
Good health and well-being aren’t things we only want for our physical bodies; we also want them for our bank accounts. There’s no better time to start building financial wellness than the present. Here are some actionable steps to begin your journey to greater gains.
Financial wellness means being financially secure enough to meet all your needs and cover emergency expenses. It also means being confident in achieving long-term financial goals, such as buying property or saving for retirement.
While your earnings play a significant role in achieving financial wellness, other decisive factors will also determine your success.
Financial management, sound spending habits, and a solid plan can help you take control of your personal finances—now and in the future.
Make Your Goals
The SMART goal-setting framework is a popular business concept because it prevents vague and aimless practices. It’s just as effective when setting financial goals.
Your financial wellness strategy should be built around what you view as success. What do you want to achieve? Defining SMART financial aspirations will help you map the way forward and stay focused on your end goal.
SMART stands for:
Whether you’re setting short- or long-term goals, be specific about what you want to achieve. Instead of just aiming to pay off debt, give yourself a clear target—such as paying off $5,000 in credit card debt within the next 12 months. You’re defining a specific goal (clearing $5,000 credit card debt) and a timeline (12 months).
In addition, identify the reason why you want to achieve this goal. Doing so will help you stay committed.
When goals are measurable, you can keep track of your progress and determine whether you need to make adjustments. For instance, if you aim to save $6,000 within a year, setting a monthly target of $500 makes it easy to measure. You’ll always have a clear idea of how you’re faring and what you need to do to stay on track.
Ask yourself how you’ll achieve your goal. Will you need to take on extra work shifts or decrease your monthly entertainment budget? Is there another area where you can save, and are you willing to make those cuts? Only you can chart the action plan needed to attain your goals.
Setting a realistic goal means you’re confident you can achieve it. If hitting your goal relies largely on winning the lottery, it’s an unrealistic objective. Similarly, some long-term goals may seem out of reach in the beginning, such as saving up to buy a car. Breaking them down into smaller milestones—like, having a certain amount saved within three months—makes a big difference.
Set a deadline. This keeps you focused and ensures you remain goal driven in your money management. Achieving your short-term goals eventually leads to success in reaching long-term financial wellness.
Get Hyper-Focused on What Matters Most
Building financial wellness can be a broad topic, leaving you wondering where to start. Here are some of the most important aspects you should focus on:
While entering into a mortgage or student loan debt can get you the education or home you want within your monthly budget, there are many instances where debt doesn’t help you get further in life. To ease this financial burden, create a debt repayment plan.
Assess where you’re starting from, considering interest rates, minimum payments, and balances. Then, consider the best repayment strategy.
For instance, will you pay off the smallest debt first or tackle the highest interest rate? Always continue the minimum payments on other debts, regardless of your chosen strategy.
Working with a financial advisor can help you find alternative solutions and get expert advice on consolidating or refinancing your debt. As you work to clear all debt, protect yourself from future debt by only purchasing what you can afford without using credit.
Financial security is being able to cover expenses comfortably, having savings, and being free of debt. Knowing you have enough to cover an emergency and continue to live comfortably will give you peace of mind.
A financial security plan focuses on paying bills on time, increasing your savings, budgeting wisely, investing, and obtaining insurance.
Only once you’ve attained financial security can you achieve financial freedom. This is about living life on your terms. It can mean long-term travel for some, early retirement for others, or even the ability to quit a job you dislike and find another without fear.
Start with the basics of a financial security plan—managing your day-to-day expenses, living within your means, and building up your savings. Every step leads you closer to financial freedom and living debt-free.
Examine Your Savings Efforts
Building financial wellness requires saving. Saving is a progressive action and a habit of self-discipline that will pay off greatly in the long run. Building up savings is more about consistency than the amount you can contribute.
So, even if you can only start with a small amount, it’s important that you at least start and remain consistent. In time, grow your contribution as you’re able.
Savings provides backup resources for emergencies and opportunities. It also protects you from interruptions in income and economic downturns. Retirement savings offer future security and prevent a retirement crisis.
When taking your savings goals seriously, you must look at your budget and identify savings opportunities. Start by questioning your purchases. Cut those that aren’t necessities or doesn’t get you closer to your goal.
When All Else Fails, Reach Out to a Pro
Managing your daily finances can be challenging. While plenty of online resources, videos, and blogs claim to offer advice on creating your financial wellness plan, these resources are only one-dimensional. They don’t know your core values, needs, fears, goals, and financial complexities.
What worked for one person in their situation might be a misguided success strategy for you. This is where a financial advisor makes a significant difference.
Start Your Financial Wellness Journey Today
It’s essential to work with someone you trust and whose skills are a match for your needs. At Wisconsin Bank & Trust, a division of HTLF Bank, we’re committed to helping you create a financial wellness plan specific to your unique situation. We offer step-by-step assistance and financial product offerings to help you through every stage of the journey.
Contact our team at Wisconsin Bank & Trust, a division of HTLF Bank today and start the road to financial wellness.