No matter what age you are, there are basic money skills that will always be beneficial in your life. From spending less than what you make to determining the best way to pay off your debt, these skills can increase your overall financial literacy and create a healthy relationship with money. Here are seven money skills that are never too late to learn.
Budgeting is often considered the cornerstone of personal finance advice. Creating a budget allows you to figure out how much money you have coming in every month and this income source. Once you know how much money is coming in, you can start tracking and figuring out your expenses. Keep an eye out for fixed expenses (expenses that stay the same every month like rent or a mortgage), variable expenses (expenses that change each month such as groceries or utilities), and periodic expenses (expenses that happen once a year as a Holiday shopping).
Tracking expenses through a budget allows you to see the areas where you may be spending too much money and where there may be opportunities for saving or investing your money. You may also strategize how you can live within your means and plan for the future with the help of a budget. Understanding exactly how much money you have coming in, going out and where it’s going is the cornerstone of effective money management.
- Wise Spending Habits
It’s never too late to learn about spending. From reducing everyday expenditures to embracing a passive saving mindset, wise spending habits are a key component of financial literacy. A money skill many underestimate is the importance of learning to spend less than what you make. Whether you’re 25 or 55, if you still spend more than you make each month, you’ll never be able to save. And until you start to save, you can’t do anything else — like investing, buying a house, or building wealth.
The best way to learn how to spend less than what you make is by tracking expenses—paying attention to every dollar that comes in and out of your life. Write down your paycheck and every payment. Then, tally it up at the end of the month. Was it negative or positive? If you’re going into debt every month, you have to find a way to eliminate your expenses or increase your income. That’s the first step to being able to save, and that’s a lesson that you need to learn at any age.
- Strategic Credit Card Use
Many money skills associated with credit cards are essential to learn throughout your financial life. These include what to do and what not to do when your credit limit increases and responsible credit card use. This kind of use allows you to earn the most perks with your credit card(s) and build your credit score. For example, if you have six cards, all with different bonuses, and use them all equally, you will not get the perks you hope for because you won’t be spending enough on specific cards to earn them. But, if you strategically use certain ones more than others, you can receive the perks you specifically want or need, like travel rewards or cash back.
- Paying Bills on Time
Making timely bill payments has significant implications on your budget and credit score. If you struggle to make payments on time, consider setting up autopay on recurring debts. You may also use an app, online calendar, or a paper file on your desk that helps keep track of and organize your bill payments and their deadlines.
- Debt Payoff Strategies
Sometimes the most overwhelming part of paying off debt is figuring out where to start. For example, should you use the debt snowball or debt avalanche repayment method? Is your debt in a situation where it’s ideal for refinancing or consolidating the debt? It’s never too late to start learning about different approaches to debt repayment and determining which method is the best fit for your financial situation. If you’re unsure where to begin, consider reaching out to a financial advisor for guidance. They may be able to assist you in starting a financial plan that addresses how you can pay off debt and provide answers to questions tailored to your specific financial needs.
- Ability to Negotiate
The ability to negotiate is an important skill to master at any age.
Many aspects of everyday finances — including credit card interest rates, insurance premiums, and cellphone and internet rates — may be negotiated if you have the patience and understanding. Get comfortable and willing to speak on the phone as you’ll want to talk with someone to deal together most of the time directly.
- Saving for Retirement
It is never too early or too late to start saving for retirement! But unfortunately, people have a misconception about saving for retirement: they have to have everything saved up before they hit retirement age.
You can keep your money invested through your retirement; you don’t have to pull it all out once you hit 65. This means you have another 15-30 years, depending on your lifespan, to let your savings grow through your retirement.