Creating and sticking to a budget is key to building a strong financial foundation. It’s a smart habit that will help you throughout life — after all, many of your financial responsibilities will change over your lifetime. Whether you’re a student, parent, new employee or retiree, check out these tips for how to set and achieve financial goals at any stage of life.
Tips for Students
Establishing strong budgeting habits is essential for students and recent graduates. Whether you’re paying off student loans, saving for a car, or getting ready to rent your first apartment, creating monthly goals can help you track progress and achieve milestones. As a student, it’s important to understand your unique set of financial priorities. For example, your parents may cover your housing costs or you might have to pay monthly rent. Similarly, your arrangement may offer a meal plan, or perhaps it’s your first time having to cook for yourself. Either way, budgeting can help prepare you to take on these new responsibilities.
Learn more about budgeting as a student.
Planning as a New Employee
Just landed your dream job but aren’t sure how to budget with a new salary? Entering the workforce or starting a new job presents a great opportunity to set goals and ensure the money you’re working hard for is being used wisely. Reevaluate your budget, taking into account any changes in income or monthly expenses. Consider areas where you might be able to lower expenses and increase saving, and take advantage of retirement savings options like 401(k)s and health benefit plans that your employer might offer. With 401(k) plans, you can save money toward your retirement on a tax-deferred basis so you don't pay federal or state income taxes on your savings until you withdraw the money at retirement.
Learn about employer benefits.
Challenges for Parents
Parenthood adds a lot of joy to life — and a lot of new expenses. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that to raise a child born in 2013 to age 18, it costs an average of $245,000. Becoming a parent increases financial responsibility and can present personal finance challenges that did not exist before the addition of a new child. Create specific and realistic goals for a balanced and manageable budget for your family. Make sure to plan for a range of spending categories including emergency funds, education funds, housing payments and family vacations. As your family grows, there are bound to be new financial challenges at every stage of your children's lives, from day care to college. Learn how to adapt and readjust your budget throughout the year — with a bit of effort, it’ll more than pay off in the long run.
Find out how to create an emergency fund.
Budgeting as a Retiree
Retirement is likely to change your financial situation. Prepare ahead of time by exploring the different retirement options available to you, and remember that in doing so, you’re working toward securing your financial future. Budgeting for retirement comes years before your last day at work. Check your eligibility for programs like Social Security and Medicare and monitor any new laws involving government programs that may impact your savings. Many retirees opt to keep working in some part-time capacity to help offset expenses. Retirement is different for everyone, but planning for it years in advance is your best tactic for creating a financially stable environment.
Read more about retirement planning.