Americans are facing some serious financial problems right now—from higher grocery and rent costs to gas prices and taxes. In addition to the hardships many endured throughout the pandemic, managing your finances can seem more stressful and difficult than ever before.
Now is not the time to relax when it comes to your budget. According to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, inflation is expected to be high for a while—this is on top of soaring gas prices. If there was ever a time to buckle down and get your budget in order, it’s now.
Here are three smart money moves you can make during difficult times:
- Make a budget. It’s crucial that during hard financial times you track your spending. Budgeting is a useful tool that highlights where your hard-earned dollars are going each month and where you can cut back. There are different methods of budgeting, as well as a number of apps that can be downloaded to your mobile device so that your budget is always close at hand.
- Don’t forget to build that nest egg. While the rule of thumb is to put 20% of your monthly income away for savings, that’s not always doable. But your budget should help you decide what services, products, or entertainment you can eliminate or reduce so you can have the money to put towards saving. This will serve as a cushion should you hit really hard times, and it’s also an investment in your future. And don’t be tempted by tax return season. Put the money in savings or apply it to paying down debt.
- Make sure paying off your debt is a priority. While you may have to be thrifty, pay bills on time so your credit score doesn’t take a hit. If you’re still having trouble paying your debt, talk to a credit counselor.
During your appointment, a counselor will help you create a budget and may recommend a debt management plan. If you enroll in a debt management plan, your counselor will work with lenders to reduce your interest rates and consolidate your loans into one affordable monthly payment, making it so that you can pay off your debt in three to five years.
While just getting gas nowadays can seem like a scary task, having a plan and making smart money moves will help you weather this season so that you come out stronger financially.