When you were a kid, your parents took care of the hard stuff, like loans, mortgages, car payments and buying food. But there’s a point where everyone realizes they’ve grown up. Mine was the first day I lined up to buy cleaning supplies for our first apartment, and I remember thinking, “Oh, man, it’s started.” While that was when I realized I was grown up, it took me a while to grow up financially.
Have you grown up financially? Here’s what you need to start thinking about.
What Is a Financial Adult?
“A financially mature person,” said Helen Ueckermann, a freelance journalist with years of experience in the financial field, “is someone who knows and understands his own finances, making the best financial decisions for the future.”
“This type of person is nobody’s slave, doesn’t believe in the debt myth, and knows that future advantages are not needed today. He or she can see the danger of financial spider webs a mile off and decides in time that that is not the way to go,” Ueckermann said.
According to Ueckermann, being a financial adult means thinking and planning for the long-term, and she emphasizes, “A financially mature person is one who has insight into the possible consequences of money decisions: the impact on him-/herself, family and personal finances.”
Learning to Budget
Get into the routine of budgeting regularly. Sit down and take a look at what you have coming in every week or month, what has to be done and how you’ve actually been spending your money. Seeing it at a glance like this is a great way to see where money has to go and where you can cut down.
If you need a little help, there’s great software out there for budgeting.
Adding to Your Savings
Are you putting away as much as you should? Savings are essential, and it doesn’t have to be that hard. If you manage to put away just $10 per week for 10 years, you’ll have $5,200 stashed away for when you need it. Plus, you’ll have whatever you earn in interest.
Responsibly Managing Debt
Most people carry some level of debt — and you’ll probably die with some debt to your name as well. (Turns out, Americans are dying with an average of $62,000 of debt.) But all debt isn’t terrible, as long as you’re managing it responsibly.
As a financial adult, it’s about using debt to help you build your credit score and learning how to use the credit you have access to in a responsible way. Use some of these pointers when tackling your credit.
- Avoid using one form of debt to settle another, like getting a loan to pay a credit card. This is one of the quickest ways to get caught up in a never-ending spiral of debt.
- Pay your installments on time. If you can’t, contact your credit provider, inform them you’re having trouble and try to set up a new plan. In most cases, they’ll take your communication of the problem into account.
- Always pay more than the minimum amount when you can, as this means you’ll end up settling your debt quicker. Even if you are paying the minimum, make sure you’re paying on time so you don’t damage your credit score.
- Remember, credit should work for you. It provides movement room in an emergency but can be a huge financial burden if that emergency strikes and you have no available credit to use.
Part of financial responsibility is knowing where your credit stands — and monitoring it on a regular basis. Looking at your own credit doesn’t harm your scores and you can see two of your scores for free on Credit.com. These free scores are updated frequently, helping you keep an eye on the effects your financial behaviors have on your scores.
Preparing for Retirement
Isn’t it too early to think about retirement? Nope — even millennials can start doing these 50 things so they can retire at 65. There are tools out there, like the Social Security Administration’s calculator, that can help you calculate your retirement age. It’s never too early to start preparing for your retirement, and a financially mature adult is able to look far enough into the future to see that they should be preparing for this sooner rather than later. Are you prepared for retirement? How about the unforeseen?
Life & Health Insurance
We’re all going to get sick, and we’re all going to die and not in an “Apocalypse Now” kind of way, either. Have you prepared for the inevitable? Things like health and life insurance are often the last things people think about when they sit down to budget, while it should really be one of the first. Are you protected in the event of serious illness or disability? Just because you’re healthy now doesn’t mean it will stay that way forever. Financial maturity means being able to look ahead.
Being a financial adult isn’t limited to your age. Some people are more financially grown up at 25 than others will be by 65. It’s all about how you start preparing for your financial future. It’s never too early or too late to become a financial adult.
This article originally appeared in The Dollar Stretcher.com.
The post How to Tell If You’re Finally a Financial Grown-Up appeared first on Credit.com.