September 15, 2022 at 12:57 am

10 Money Rules You Need to Memorize by the Time You’re 40

by Matthew Gilligan

Remember when you got your first real job when you were a kid and your mom or dad (or maybe both of them) told you to put some money away from each paycheck so you’d get into the habit of saving money, even if it was just a little bit at a time?

Well, as usual, it turns out Mom and Dad were right!

And today we’re gonna get a refresher course about money rules that you should memorize and start practicing by the time you’re 40.

Let’s take a look.

1. Do it monthly.

I’m talking about credit cards, FYI.

Americans carry an average debt of $7,000 and a lot of younger people in their 20s and 30s make mistakes with their credit cards and by racking up a lot of debt.

Pay off your credit card every month so you don’t get dragged into debt hell. It can make your life a nightmare.

2. Save it up.

It’s recommended that you save six months’ worth of expenses just in case something happens: a leave of absence, getting laid off from your job, etc.

And certified financial planner Carla Dearing says it’s just a good habit to have, so sit down and calculate what six months of expenses would look like for you.

It’s a good start!

3. The 30-day money fast.

You’ve heard of intermittent fasting for your health, but there’s also fasting you can try for your bank account.

Dearing recommends spending money only on your basic necessities and bills for one month and putting the rest into your savings as an experiment. This exercise will give you an idea of how much money you spend on things you don’t need and will give you some encouragement to make some small cuts in your spending.

4. Your 401K.

This is a big one.

You should know WHERE your 401k is and HOW MUCH is in there. Carla Dearing says, “People think they should know all of this money stuff and get paralyzed when they don’t but ignorance is not an excuse for inaction.”

Roughly 42% of Americans aren’t saving for retirement but it’s a necessity. Ask your HR person or a bank representative to help you figure out your 401k if you have questions and make sure you make the maximum contribution each month.

401k - eggs and us dollar bills

5. Check your credit report.

FYI, Americans are entitled to one free credit report each year…and you should do it!

It’s important to know what your credit looks like because it influences everything from your insurance rates to your rent. You should ideally be looking for a score that’s higher than 710.

After you get your report, be sure to look it over closely for instances of fraud, bills you might have forgotten about, old loans, and any other possible mistakes.

6. Monthly budget.

You don’t see many people these days balancing their budgets on pen and paper like they used to so it can be hard to keep track of your finances now that everything is done electronically.

But Dearing suggests that you still make a monthly budget to keep track of your money: “It doesn’t have to be a complex spreadsheet, a good old-fashioned worksheet is fine.”

7. Student loans.

Student loans are in the news a lot these days and there’s no doubt that a lot of Americans have a massive amount of student loan debt.

Dearing says the first thing you should do is to separate your loans into two categories: government and private. The next step is to see if you can consolidate your federal loans and reduce your payments on them.

For private loans, contact the lenders to inquire about consolidating and negotiating better terms.

8. Term life insurance.

A lot of people tend to ignore life insurance because it seems confusing, but Dearing thinks it’s important to buy term life insurance.

She says, “You only need to purchase 20 to 25 years’ worth, or until your kids (if you have them) graduate from college. There are many affordable options, and this is one of the best things you can do for your loved ones and your own peace of mind.”

Look into it!

Screen Shot 2022 09 01 at 12.40.32 PM 10 Money Rules You Need to Memorize by the Time You’re 40

Photo Credit: Unsplash,Scott Graham

9. You should invest in real estate.

Dearing thinks it’s a mistake to put off buying a home in favor of renting and having more flexibility.

She says, “Real estate isn’t just for rich barons! A home is the number one wealth-building asset for most people. The return on homes is consistently better than the stock market.”

Dearing also stresses the importance of having enough cash for a 20% down payment and says if a house is out of reach, you might want to think about buying a rental property with a family member…or someone else you trust.

10. Look for it.

I’m talking about identity theft because it’s a huge problem and it can lead to a ton of huge problems.

Be sure not to throw your bank statements in the trash without shredding them first. And you should always pay attention to your statements and electronic alerts you receive from your banks and credit card companies to see if anything suspicious is going on.

Staying on top of potential fraud is a huge one, folks, so keep your eyes open at all times!

Screen Shot 2022 09 01 at 12.42.01 PM 10 Money Rules You Need to Memorize by the Time You’re 40

Photo Credit: Unsplash,Zac Gudakov

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