21 Financial Red Flags (Part 2)

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These days, so many people are struggling financially, failing to save, awash in debt and student loans, shut out from home ownership, and wondering how they’ll retire comfortably. So it’s more important than ever to identify the red flags in our financial picture, and then fix them.

In part one of this blog we covered the first 7 financial red flags to look for. Here are 7 more to identify in case you’re inadvertently sabotaging your finances, and most importantly, action steps to keep change those negative behaviors ASAP.

  1. Not planning for retirement

Although you may not be concerned right now, you will surely struggle in the long run if you’re not contributing to your retirement. The sooner you begin, the less you’ll need to worry, and the more secure you’ll be in the future. You’ll never know how Social Security will be functioning in the future, because it is unclear how that program will develop, so it’s important not to rely on that and that alone.

Action Steps:

  • Start by talking to your HR representative, and find out how and when you can begin contributing up to your employer’s match. If you’re self-employed or don’t qualify, you should open an IRA or another self-employed retirement account.
  • Each year you should raise the percentage that you contribute until you’re up to 15% of your income. To avoid feeling like you’re missing anything, you can simply adjust it as you receive raises.
  1. Not having an emergency fund

An emergency fund is essential if something goes wrong in your life. Not only does it protect you so that you can continue to pay your bills when disaster strikes, but you also feel safer when you have it. This can take the stress away from covering an unexpected car repair or when who find yourself unemployed. Your emergency fund will save you from relying on a credit card to get you out of these kinds of situations.

Action Steps:

  • Build up to $1,000 before you focus on getting out of debt, by putting extra money into a savings account each month.
  • Once you’re out of debt, save up six month’s worth of expenses. This will cover you through nearly every emergency; including losing a job or long periods of time off work due to a serious illness.
  1. Not saving enough

If you want to achieve goals like buying a home, opening a business, or going on vacation, you’re really going to need some savings to make that happen – above and beyond your emergency fund. If you’re not focusing on regularly building your savings account, you need to start doing so ASAP. To make a real difference in your financial future, it’s very important to get in the habit of putting money into savings, a great foundation to build wealth.

Action Steps:

  • Start by trying to put aside an extra $20-$25 each week, that you put into your savings account.
  • Increase the amount you save by looking at your monthly bills and insurance information, and then do some research on other providers to see if you can save additional money by switching.
  1. Renting instead of buying a home

When you rent a house or apartment, you are essentially just making your landlord wealthy, and losing out on the equity, loan pay down, and tax advantages that ownership affords. In fact, home ownership is the cornerstone of financial independence. It’s no wonder why 94% of millionaires attribute real estate ownership as a significant part of how they obtained and held their wealth. Statistics show that the average homeowner’s net worth is 34 times that of a renter, and 77% of homeowners say owning real estate helped them achieve their long-term financial goals.

Action Steps:

  • Talk with Blue Water Credit about your credit score and what you need to do to be in the best position to buy.
  • Sit down with a mortgage broker to find out what specific planning you need in order to get approved for a home loan.
  1. Not maintaining a great credit score

Did you know that the average FICO score in the United States this year is 695, and only about 10% of consumers have a credit score at or above 800? Not keeping your credit score in good health is a huge financial red flag that cascades into every other part of your finances. So consumers are advised to always pay their bills on time (or before the due date), keep their total debt below 10% of their total available credit, keep a good mix of revolving, installment, and mortgage debt, and check their credit report regularly, reviewing for errors or areas for improvement.

Action Steps:

  • Contact Blue Water Credit for more information or if you need any help maintaining a great credit score.
  1. Not setting a financial plan

Without setting and committing to concrete financial goals, you probably won’t be able to continue to accomplish important things like buying a home, paying off debt, or retiring when you want to.

Action Steps:

  • Create a financial plan and set both short-term and long-term goals. The goals can be things like saving up an emergency fund, getting out of debt, or buying a home. They should also include long-term goals such as retiring and paying for your child’s college education.
  • Break the goals down into smaller steps that you can start taking today.
  • Adjust the goals every quarter to make sure you stay on track.
  1. Staying at a Low Paying Job

A bad job is better than no job, right? Yes, but not if you find yourself stuck in it forever. You may have taken a lower paying job right after you graduated from college in order to gain experience, or because of a difficult job market. However, staying underemployed and not making enough can also be damaging to your future finances.

Action Steps:

  • Update your resume, read industry periodicals, and network regularly.
  • Start looking for a better-paying job within your company or at a new organization.
  • Take advantage of tuition reimbursement programs or other education if you need to gain additional skills in order to get a better paying job.

 

 

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