In this post, I thought we should explore some of the best financial choices or decisions you can make today that will make your life easier by reducing your financial stress and bringing you more happiness as you start feeling a sense of financial security in the short and long term.
A survey conducted by Capital One Financial Corporation in 2019 found that the number one cause of stress in Americans is finances – 73 percent, while politics contributes 59 percent of the stress followed by work -49 percent.
This is why it is important to address some of the things you can work towards or choices you can start making that will lower your financial stress and instead make you happier.
Here are the best 6 financial choices you should make today
The Best 6 Financial Choices That Will Make You Happier
Save For An Emergency Fund-/50/30/20 Rule
Putting away money from each paycheck to go towards your emergency fund is one of the financial choices that will make life easier.
Especially when unexpected expenses come up, which they usually do.
It will bring you more happiness knowing that you have funds for car repairs, medical emergencies, home repairs, or family emergencies.
While a savings account is mainly for planned goals like buying for a home, a wedding, saving for your Children’s College, and so on, the emergency fund should be kept separate from your regular savings accounts.
I like to use the 50/30/20 rule that can also be turned into the 50/20/30 rule as a means of budgeting to help you determine how much you should be spending and saving.
According to senator Elizabeth Warren who developed this rule, your after-tax income should be divided into 3 buckets;
- Essentials (50%)- expenses required for your to live
- Wants (30%)- extra things you spend money on but do not need
- Savings (20%)- regular and emergency fund
My preference is to use 50/20/30 where essentials take up 50%, savings -30%, and wants 20% since wants are not as important as savings.
For example, if you make $3,000 monthly or $1,500 bi-weekly, use the 50/20/30 rule.
- 50% of the $3,000 is ($1500) to pay for your essentials that might include rent, utilities, car insurance, groceries, and gas for your car.
- You should then save 30% of 3000. The $ 900 can be distributed between your regular savings and emergency fund. Maybe decide to put $250 in your emergency fund and $650 in your savings account.
- At this point, you should have on hand $600, which is the (20%) and you can use it for your wants -go out for dinner with friends, buy some new clothes, go for a weekend adventure or whatever else you might need.
If you make this financial choice on each paycheck, you would have $3,000 in your emergency fund in a year. It might not seem much, but at least you have it as a backup if anything urgent and unexpected came up.
Build Your Credit
One way of building your credit score is getting rid of all unnecessary credit cards and high APR Credit cards that, in the long run, will increase your debt.
One of the biggest mistakes I made in my 20's was collecting too many credit cards and using them frequently to sustain me in situations where I lacked enough money.
This ended up throwing me in more debt, and that cycle kept going until I decided to make better financial choices.
Having 1 or 2 credit cards is great, but the trick is knowing how and where to use them.
I am not a credit expert, but from reading my free annual credit score report, your credit is affected mainly by your credit card balances as compared to your credit limits.
Here are my suggestions for building a high score without getting into more debt:
- Keeping only 1 or 2 cards that have low APR ( below 15%) to keep up with the payments
- Making sure that you utilize only 30% of your credit limit. For example, if your credit limit is 1500, you should be spending up to $450 per pay cycle.
- Paying off the balance before your statement date to avoid accruing interest which will lower your credit score.
It is not advisable to completely get rid of all your credit cards because it builds your credit. However, the lower the APR, the lower the interest rate you have to pay on any usage.
Some credit cards have an introductory 0% APR, lasting anywhere from 12 months to 21 months, but you can also get a credit card with an APR as low as 11.99%.
Beverly Harzog, a nationally recognized personal finance and credit card expert for U.S. News & World Report, provides a list and the benefits of the best low APR credit cards in 2021 that you might find very helpful.
This is one of the best financial choices that will bring more happiness in your life, especially if you live in Europe or the USA. Having a good credit score can affect where you live, renting or planning to purchase a home, your car payments, and business loan options.
So building your credit to a high score should be one of your financial goals this year.
Find a Career That You Love
Following a career path that you love and enjoy is a complete productivity booster and improves job performance.
Research suggests that people who enjoy their jobs are usually highly motivated, learn quicker, and make healthier business and financial choices.
As much we want jobs that can support our financial habits, I also believe that finding a company whose mission aligns with your values is a great decision. There are people out there who make so much money but hate what they do.
Hating your job or your workplace can take a toll on you emotionally and physically.
So before applying for a job, review what kind of benefits they have, how many weeks of vacation they offer, and if it will work for you.
If having a work-life balance is essential to you then probably looking for a Mon through Friday kind of job or a 9/5 position.
Having an unsatisfying or stressful job can affect your sleeping pattern and how you relate to the people around you.
I remember having a job that left me feeling anxious and having sleepless nights occasionally just thinking about work.
I was unhappy, and waking each morning to go to work sucked!
It is also important to note that work-related stress is one of the main things that cause tension in relationships.
It is sometimes hard to be happy and leave the office’s negative energy when you had a long, stressful day at work. Carrying around those strong feelings of resentment for your job can easily affect other areas of your life as well.
Investing in the stock market is one the best financial choices you can ever make for yourself now and for your future.
Joshua Kennon, an expert on investing and asset management, describes investing in stock markets as “a practice of designing a portfolio of diversified investments to achieve a passive income to live on.”
Many people get overwhelmed by what’s happening in the economy, and they think investing is scary.
It is okay to be afraid of losing your money if the economy crashes like in 2008 with the financial crisis; however, this shouldn’t stop you from gaining knowledge about investing.
Because there will always be something that’s going to shake the economy, just like the COVID19 Pandemic, which we all didn’t see coming.
However, the market is resilient, and that’s why we have some of these government policies to restore and rebuild the economy.
Yes, you might lose some of the money at some point because there is always a degree of risk when you invest, but the stock market will find a way to get through.
This is why it’s advisable to have an investment portfolio that’s break down your investments
into different classes like stocks, EFT’s, bonds, and so on..to lower your risk and for you not to lose all your money,
Make financial choices that will generate income even after you retire.
Start investing now. Your money will grow by making some profits by selling stocks or earning shareholder dividends.
You have plenty of time to regain your financial position in most economic situations.
Spend Money on Things That Matter
“Good memories come from beautiful experiences”- Christine Nantongo
When I was in my 20’s I believed that I was making great financial choices by spending money on objects because they last longer.
But the reality is there is a more suitable product on the market every other day.
I was constantly justifying my emotional desires to buy brand new products and services.
I thought such financial choices will bring me more satisfaction.
In this age of social media and exaggerated advertising, we convince ourselves that we need new technology devices, new clothing styles, or a new car that came out this year.
Yet, there will be a new and better version of an iPhone coming out every year, a new, faster, and cool car manufactured every year.
Let’s not forget that as soon as your buy something from a store, it depreciates in value.
Buying things will not bring you long-lasting happiness because your preferences keep changing every now and then.
So how do we change this?
Spend on experiences like traveling to a new destination, taking a road trip, and sightseeing. These are things that genuinely matter to us because good memories come from beautiful experiences.
You will never forget that road trip you took with your family to the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge or the week you spent on a cruise ship. Or maybe that girlfriends’ trip you took 3 years ago to Jamaica for your birthday.
All these are memories that you will live with and cherish for the rest of your life.
Buying a home is an extensive, lifetime financial choice that will make you happy because of all the memories you will create in your home.
The happiness you get from sharing the beautiful moments with friends and family outweighs the joy of buying things like shoes or clothes.
So I’m challenging you today to stop spending money on things you do not need and put that money aside for experiences and things that matter.
When you invest in yourself, you improve the chances of increasing your income and your financial wellbeing.
Invest In Yourself
You will be surprised by how many free classes you can find online today that offer short courses you could use to improve your job or technical skills.
Groupon offers discounts for cooking classes, real estate classes, and so on.
Put your money where your mouth is and learn something new that could potentially lead to a promotion and raise or better-paying job at another company.
And if you’re a business owner, acquiring a new skill can give you the ability to expand your services and gain more clients.
Also, educating yourself about healthy eating can lower health care spending. Choosing to eat healthy foods and paying for a gym membership to work out regularly can have positive benefits for your career, too.
The financial choices you make today or tomorrow will affect how you see the world and everything around. You will either be happy or stressed out depending on which road you decide to take. So I am encouraging you to start with the smallest decisions that will help enjoy and focus on other areas of your life.
I would love to know in the comments what financial decisions you have made to bring more happiness and meaning to your life.