by Hannah Jo Uy
Are you worried about peeking into the ATM account or the credit card that you over-used the past month? Don’t fret! It’s the start of a new year, and what better way to welcome 2015 than by letting bad behaviors meet their much-deserved death and ushering in new, positive habits?
Making even small but meaningful changes to your financial routine could bring you closer to the financial freedom you’ve always dreamed of. To start your year right, we’re sharing some tried-and-tested tips from acclaimed financial adviser and “personal financial guru”, Suze Orman.
About Suze Orman
After college, Illinois-born Suze Orman moved to California and worked as a waitress, where she earned $400 a month. An aspiring restaurateur, she borrowed over $50,000 from friends and supporters, but lost everything when an investment broker mismanaged her funds. Wanting to learn more about investing, she trained as a broker for that very same company and eventually won an out-of-court settlement when she sued them for mismanaging her funds. Suze proved to be an astute investor and worked her way up the financial world. She later on became the vice president of investments at Prudential Bache Securities, and then founded the Suze Orman Financial Group in 1987.
Her jump to being a public figure and icon came after penning The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom (1997), You’ve Earned It, Don’t Lose It (1999), and The Courage to be Rich (1999). These three titles landed her on the New York Times bestseller list, but it was after conducting a series of workshops and guesting on Oprah that Suze’s celebrity status took off. She soon started penning a monthly financial advice column in O Magazine, then later went on to host the award-winning program, The Suze Orman Show.
The road to financial freedom is a long one, but all it really takes is starting off on the right foot. Here are five easy tips you can start with:
- Let it go. When heading towards a new direction, the first step is always the hardest. Let go of any “coulda-shoulda-wouldas” from the past and focus on the here and now. Let go of any remorse you might have from being too liberal with your card. Keep your focus straight ahead and cleanse yourself from any guilt that’s weighing you down.
- Survey your financial situation. When you’re finally ready to take action, face reality head-on. Dig up the credit card bills you’ve been avoiding and open up the savings account you’ve refused to look at so you can make a clear accounting of your finances. Before you figure out where you’re going you better have an idea of where you’re coming from. So, take a good hard look at where you stand.
- Prioritize settling your debts. Commit to finally getting your credit card bills under control. The piece of plastic in your hand may be terribly tempting, but remember that you do have control. So, make sure you pay the minimum religiously, and when you can deposit money even when you don’t have to. Keep at it until you’ve cleared your debt and you’re going to feel so much lighter. If you must–once you’rethrough—deactivate your old credit card and open a new one so you can start with a clean slate and a renewed financial mindset.
- Save, save, save. “A penny saved is a penny earned,” as the old saying goes. Quit making excuses and make an effort to set aside some money each month. All it takes is some careful evaluation and making the necessary changes to your lifestyle, and being honest about the things you could easily live without. You can even increase savings by keeping a close eye on your utility bill, or perhaps inviting friends over for a home-cooked meal instead of eating out. Try to use cash when you’re out, as using your credit card can often numb you from the reality of what you’re actually spending. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Make sure to will yourself to save.
- Protect your money. With today’s fluctuating economy, it’s important to save and prepare for a rainy day. If you have people dependent on you, make sure you have life insurance or some other fund to dip into in case of emergency. Also, build up a savings account worth at least eight months of your basic pay, which will give you enough time to recover should anything untoward happen to you career-wise. Most importantly, be very careful about which bank and financial instruments you put your money in; do the research and legwork before entrusting anyone with your hard-earned money.
Learn more about these and Suze’s other financial tips from her book,The Money Class: How to Stand in Your Truth and Create the Future You Deserve.