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Nine Steps You Can Take Right Now to Build a More Financially Stable Future

Financial surprises often seem to crop up at the most inopportune times — your car breaks down, you have an unexpected medical bill, your air conditioner needs to be replaced. All of these situations, paired with poor money habits or a lack of financial planning, can create a major hole in your budget, leaving you feeling scared or anxious about how you’re going to climb back out.

But whether you have unexpected expenses, you spend above your means or you feel like you’re behind on saving for retirement, the key to finding stability is intention. Here, the financial and investment experts of Kiplinger Advisor Collective walk through the steps anyone can take right now to start building a more financially stable future and why doing so is key to living the life you want. 

Create a vision board for your life
“The first step is to actually take a step back and create a vision board. The vision board should include tangible items of things you want in life, but it should also include values like family, health and more. The reason this is so important is that when we get clear on what we truly want in life, we can then use it to drive our financial actions to make our vision a reality.” — Derek NotmanCouplr

Make time for learning
“The best thing you can do to ensure financial success is devote time to learning. Reading even just one book can put you ahead of most of the population. Find 30 minutes a day to learn about money, whether that means waking up early to read or listening to an audiobook on your commute. Start with these two books: Financial Freedom by Grant Sabatier and The Simple Path to Wealth by J.L. Collins.” — Tyler WrightDefining Wealth LLC

Analyze why your money is where it is right now
“Take a deep, hard look at where your money is now and why it is there. This will give you a better perspective on what your relationship with money is and why you are in the financial position you are now in. Then, you can decide if this is the direction you want to go and determine what options you have available to you to change the situation.” — Deborah W. EllisEllis Wealth Planning

Build up an emergency fund
“Creating an emergency fund is a great way to start building a more financially stable future. Life happens, and some things are out of our control. By creating an emergency fund early on, you can help alleviate any unforeseen financial costs in the future without having to borrow against your retirement nest egg. The result is a happier and healthier financial future.” — Greg WelbornFirst Financial Consulting

Start investing small amounts
“Start investing money. This is a fundamental mindset shift from consumption to creation, from spender to investor, from having nothing to having something. Investing allows your money to grow. It can lead to you lowering the amount of hours you need to work. And you can invest with a small amount. My advice: Start small, begin right now and stay consistent. Your future self will thank you.” — Jason VitugPhroogal

Purchase a home
“You have to live somewhere, so you are either a renter or a homeowner. Homeowners have an overall net worth that is 40 times that of renters. When, where and what home you buy is crucial, but renting for the rest of your life is a pure expense. Being a homeowner is buying an asset, and it provides a more stable future — just remember to financially manage all aspects of your home.” — John BodrozicHomeZada

Get clear on your numbers
“Before you can know where to go, you have to know where you are. Gather your financial information and look at actual numbers rather than trying to do mental math or guessing.  Understanding the connection between your income, spending, debt and savings will help you prioritize, decide next steps and create a realistic plan.” — Chianté JonesDollars and Change

Start contributing to your retirement
“Live under your means and pay yourself first. Take 10% of your net pay and save it until you have enough to live on for three months without pay. Then, invest in a retirement plan like an IRA or your company’s 401(k). Companies will match at least 3% of your pay if you contribute at least 3% or more. If you don’t do this, you’re losing that additional 3% they would have matched, as well as the tax benefit.” — Dennis FutchThe Tax Shop

Commit to doing better for yourself
“A single journey begins with one step. The most important step that anyone can take is to commit to doing better for themselves, so start saving and investing today. Consistency is key, and be certain to understand that you defer some consumption and spending today to ensure that you can continue to pursue your interests, hobbies and passions in the future.” — Marguerita ChengBlue Ocean Global Wealth

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