6 Actions to Take Today to Take Control of Your Finances

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Do you find yourself overwhelmed at the idea of managing your money? Are you only living for today while ignoring what your bank account will look like tomorrow? Do you doubt your ability to create a personal finance plan for yourself that will lead you to success?

You're not alone. Many millennials want to start doing more with their money but aren't sure where to start. You can take control of your financial situation and empower yourself with knowledge. Here are six steps you can start taking right now.

6 Actions to Take Today to Take Control of Your Finances
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6 Actions to Take Today to Take Control of Your Finances
Too many members of Gen Y are drowning in student loan debt. But it doesn't need to be this way. If you feel overwhelmed by student loans, it's time to make a plan and start tackling your debt once and for all.

Several income-based repayment programs are available to those with federal student loan debt. You also might be eligible to have your student loans forgiven if you're in certain professions or want to volunteer with select organizations.

Don't let student loan debt hold you back from making major financial decisions such as marriage, home ownership, or starting a family. Prioritize your goals, create an action plan and make debt a thing of the past.
It's just that simple. If you want to take control of your finances, you need ensure your expenses are lower than your income. That will keep you out of debt, but it may leave you living paycheck to paycheck with nothing left over at the end of each month.

If you want to reach real financial success, you need to ensure you prioritize saving over spending. Get into the savings habit sooner rather than later, and you'll reach your goals faster and find it easier to guard against lifestyle inflation.

Once your debt is paid off, you can switch your focus to aggressively accelerate your savings. Start with establishing an emergency fund, then think about other big financial goals and funding your retirement accounts.
Saving money is only one side of the equation. The other important factor? Increasing your income and earning more money

People usually start by looking for ways to save more money. After all, it's easier to spend 30 minutes looking at your budget to see what expenses you could eliminate or what costs you could cut back on than it is to spend an extra five hours per day working to earn more money.

But making more money is a powerful tool when it comes to getting your financial situation under control and working toward success. And it is in your power to increase your income!

Start by negotiating for a higher salary if you look for a new job. Or ask for what you're worth (after you've earned it by providing value and working hard) at your current job. You can also look into part-time work, freelancing on the side, or even starting your own side business.
You should always make sure your spending aligns with your values. Take a moment to identify what means the most to you in life or what your biggest life goals are, and compare your spending against that list. By doing this, you'll get more out of your money, which will lead to greater happiness. 

Don't forget that spending on experiences and investing in relationships are also good ways to balance money and happiness. Have you ever regretted visiting loved ones or traveling?
Many members of Gen Y are intimidated by the market given what happened in 2008, but it's impossible to grow wealth to its highest potential if you avoid investing. If you get anxiety hearing someone say "stock market," familiarize yourself with the basics of investing. Education is a powerful tool.

Start off small by participating in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, such as a 401(k), if one is available to you. If your employer matches a percentage of your contributions, that means you're getting free money in return for saving money. The sooner you start investing, the more time your contributions have to grow, which leads to greater wealth down the line.
Your ability to work and earn money is your most important asset. Millennials are guilty of foregoing insurance because they think it's better to save money than have to pay premiums, but none of us are invincible. 

If you're married or have kids, you have loved ones depending on you. Having life insurance and an estate plan in place protects your family in case the worst happens.

There's no reason to remain uneducated about your financial situation. Knowledge is power, and learning how to put your money to work increases the odds of you achieving financial success. You can start working on your situation right now to take control of your finances.

Sophia Bera is a virtual financial planner for millennials and the founder of Gen Y Planning. She is location-independent but calls Minneapolis "home." She offers a free Gen Y Planning newsletter and recently published her first ebook to provide a Gen Y guide to empowered personal finances.
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