What is financial success?

Monetary success is difficult to define in concrete terms. Even though everyone has their own definitions, there is plenty of advice on how to plan for a better financial future. This article shares some suggestions on how to set definitive goals and refine your finance strategies.

In order to achieve financial success, there are lifestyle changes that will help you along the way. On average, 45 percent of Americans are financially illiterate. Increasing your personal financial literacy will assist you in making smarter spending choices. Drafting a more sustainable monthly budget will cut back on spending and help recover from financial setbacks in order to open up money for savings. Implementing key steps towards financial success by choosing retirement strategies and accounts, such as SIMPLE retirement plans, 401(k)s and Roth IRAs can help to ensure a legacy for loved ones.

Gaining financial literacy, or fundamental economic and money management skills, is all about taking charge of your situation. Put yourself in control of what success means. Being proactive and creating your own definition of economic success is the best way to achievement.

Financial success in 10 steps

Tired of wondering how to become financially successful? Since your financial situation is unique, it is critical to get an idea of where to begin.

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1. Establish goals and commit to financial planning

Getting better at managing your money also increases your understanding of financial literacy. By becoming financially savvy, decisions on investing become easier and are done with more confidence.

Pursuing simple financial success is the best beginning. Identify a few primary objectives that might help you become happier, and then evaluate what you will have to do to get there. For instance, you might create a spending budget and set up a savings account. For those already on this track, perhaps pursue new retirement strategies or review your current investments using a smart robo-adviser. Concrete goals and a broad view are the cornerstones of building a financial plan that you can firmly grasp.

2. Analyze and determine your net worth

How long will it be before you achieve your goals? It is not always easy to tell. Put things into unambiguous terms by determining your net worth, or the difference between your assets and liabilities. Stop weighing your financial success definition on the scales of society-at-large. Realize that each investor is unique, and that each investment plan needs to be individualized.

3. Become financially successful using a budget

Dealing with money can feel overwhelming unless you simplify things by making a budget. There are many ways to budget effectively. Money management tools range from smartphone apps to simple computer spreadsheets and are readily accessible.

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Your budgeting practices should itemize what you are spending money on so that you can make informed decisions when eliminating non-essentials. Budget-tracking tools need to be easy to use so that you can make it a daily habit. Set realistic short-term goals when allocating funds and come back to reassess and improve each month. Work to save at least ten percent of your monthly income for retirement savings. Choosing a unified investment platform can be a considerable help in this area, so that you can track your money coming in and your expenses going out.

4. Pay off debt and build credit history

Paying off debt should be one of your first steps to financial freedom. Since most debt carries significant interest, the longer you wait to resolve it, the more you end up owing. That translates to fewer opportunities to use your money to be financially successful.

Paying off debt is also vital because it helps you build a better credit history. In addition to the complex numerical scores that decide whether your credit is “good,” “fair” or “poor,” your credit report includes a detailed history that covers years of your consumer behavior. Although laws like the Fair Credit Reporting Act, or FCRA, give you the right to clear up parts of your track record by disputing mistakes, eliminating debt by closing accounts when you can is a much better solution.

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One method of reducing debt you might choose is the debt snowball method. This debt reduction strategy suggests paying off bills in order of smallest to largest, irrespective of interest rate. This is one of many ways experts advise on ways to become debt free. Paying off debt takes time, but reducing debt also helps to eventually rebuild credit.

A single missed payment can make your score drop noticeably, and transgressions stay on your report for years. Only take on liabilities that you know you can manage based on your budget.

5. Spend less than you earn

Cutting back seems hard to many Americans. Consumerism is a way of life, and many people equate wealth with status. Leverage your newfound budget awareness to set hard spending limits. Be sure to account for your income minus taxes, bills and other expenses. That way, you will have money for savings and investments.

6. Create an emergency savings fund

In 2018, only 39 percent of U.S. households had enough money saved to cover a $1,000 emergency. With medical expenses and other hardships being among the top reasons Americans enter bankruptcy, it is in your best interest to be prepared.

Having an emergency savings fund that you can access grants you heightened financial security. Cultivating the habit of knowing when to save and when to invest can also minimize the risk that you will have to deviate from your financial plan to handle the unexpected.

7. Get insured against catastrophes

Insurance premiums may seem like unnecessary expenses when you only claim benefits rarely, but they can dramatically lower the costs of medical bills, damaged property repairs and business liabilities. They also help you control what you spend on routine expenses like doctor visits. Some insurers reward loyal customers who have been with them for longer by increasing their payable benefits. Policies differ with each situation, so seeking the help of a professional is key when determining the plan that is right for you.

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8. IRAs and retirement accounts

The earlier you start a 401(k), Roth IRA, traditional IRA or other retirement savings plan, the more it will build interest on your behalf. Each prospect has a different set of rules covering how it’s funded, taxed and penalized, and how you get money out. There’s a range of retirement strategies to choose from, so don’t feel limited in your pursuit to achieve financial success. Each investment opportunity is different, so there is something suitable for every kind of investor.

9. Diversify Your Investments

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Start diversifying. Study the performance of different investment opportunities until you build a well-rounded portfolio that you can understand. This type of management strategy aims to reduce the overall portfolio risk.

Choose investment tools that put things in straightforward terms, like a portfolio pie chart or graph that you can view on your smartphone. Select a company that makes it easy to invest small amounts and that adjusts your portfolio composition as necessary to achieve your goals.

Diversification serves many critical purposes. It helps you navigate through tumultuous markets and broadens your investment horizons. Start with the basics and achieve financial literacy incrementally. Diversifying and experimenting on a small scale should build confidence and help you to learn from your mistakes before they become irrecoverable.

Diversification does not guarantee a profit or protect against a loss in a declining market. It is a method used to help manage investment risk. Rebalancing can entail transaction costs and tax consequences that should be considered when determining a rebalancing strategy.

10. Long-term view

No matter how you view the meaning of financial success, it is essential that your definition includes longevity. If all you plan for is today, you will not get results that last.

Compound interest is a concept that can help build wealth over time. By applying compound interest, interest gets calculated on the previous interest in addition to the principal. The more your account grows, the more potential it will have for further growth.

The impact of compound interest increases with accounts that have higher compounding rates. These accounts add the previous interest to the principal more often, so they grow faster. Since things like money market accounts, CDs and savings accounts may have different compounding rates, being aware of these subtle distinctions can help you build a portfolio with more profitable returns.

Let M1 help you achieve financial success

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Manage your money in a way that is individualized to you. Make diversification super-simple and ensure you’re always fully invested. With free automated investing, M1 Finance empowers you to manage your money and build wealth with ease. M1 wants to help you achieve financial success in your own way. With no commissions or management fees, you never have to worry about hidden fees eating into your returns again. Open an account with M1 Finance today and watch your savings grow.