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The past few years have had a huge impact on everyone’s finances. The pandemic may have forced people into situations where they’re spending less and have more money to invest in things like paying off debt — and some of those habits may have stuck.
Despite this, data from Finfit, a financial wellness platform, suggests that some Americans have experienced a decline in financial confidence. In 2021, only 19% of respondents said they were very confident in their ability to achieve their long-term financial goals. This number is down from 26% in 2020.
“Financial uncertainty leads to increased stress, which has many negative consequences for health and work performance,” said Charles Lattimer, vice president of growth and innovation at Finfit.
Select asked Lattimer what people can do to increase their confidence when it comes to managing their money. Here’s what he shared.
How to boost your financial confidence
According to Lattimer, four steps are essential to feeling more secure and confident when it comes to managing your money.
“First, you need to start working towards a goal. Then, you need to know exactly what you need to do to achieve those goals. Next, you need to make sure all the right tools are readily available, and finally, you have to act,” he told Select.
Thinking about what you want to accomplish can be both exciting and motivating, which is why setting specific goals can be an effective way to promote growth in any area of life, not just your finances. . At the same time, however, setting goals can feel daunting because we can be afraid of failing and feel like we’ve failed.
Don’t just think of your goals as something you can That is to reach or not to reach; instead, think of your financial goals as a vision that guides a series of intentional and meaningful next steps. Even if you’re a little short of your goal, you’ll still find yourself in a better position than when you started if you’ve worked hard to take the right steps.
When setting goals, you should also try to avoid creating goals that are too extreme. It can be easy to feel like you need to achieve all of your financial goals at the same time – to maximize your retirement contributions and pay off thousands of dollars in debt at the same time. But setting goals that are probably beyond your current reach can actually be daunting.
Instead, think about goals that are more achievable based on your current situation. Even if these goals seem very small at first, like saving $50 a month, they will still help you develop healthy financial habits that you can maintain for the long term.
Know how to achieve the goals you have set for yourself
Once you’ve set a financial goal, it’s important to visualize the steps that will help you move toward that goal. This is where a financial planner can come in.
While having an ongoing relationship with a finance professional isn’t for everyone, you can certainly benefit from at least an initial consultation with a finance professional.
After taking an overview of your financial profile, a financial planner may be able to tell you which steps you should prioritize – and they can also discuss specific ways to help you work on those steps. And, they can also provide insights and options that haven’t even crossed your mind yet.
Zoe Financial is a platform that can put you in touch with a list of professionals specializing in your concerns. Another option is to use PlannerSearch.org to find a professional in your state. It will give you a list of CFPs near you, and you can also filter by specialties such as benefits, marriage, divorce, bankruptcy, home buying and more.
Gather the right tools
Once you have your goal in mind and an idea of what you need to do to achieve it, you may need to look for tools to help you along the way.
For example, if your goal is to get into the habit of knowing where your money is going or to start tracking a budget, a budgeting app can be an essential tool for taking the next steps. Personal Capital, for example, connects to your bank accounts, credit cards, investment accounts, and other financial accounts, and the platform automatically categorizes your transactions. This gives you an easy way to find out where your money is going each month. And, you can use this information to establish a realistic budget.
Or let’s say one thing you really want to accomplish this year is start investing your money, even if you don’t know what to invest in. Apps like Wealthfront and Betterment, which use robo-advisors to build a portfolio of investments that make sense to you based on your risk tolerance, goals and retirement date, can serve as tools for help you achieve this.
To take part
Once you have all these ideas on paper, it’s time to take action. Thinking about what you have to do is only half the battle – actually doing it can feel scarier. But according to Lattimer, avoidance can actually undermine your progress.
Putting all of these steps together can help you feel more in control of your finances. And the more positive action you take, the more progress you will make and the more secure and motivated you will feel to continue.
Editorial note: Any opinions, analyses, criticisms or recommendations expressed in this article are those of Select’s editorial staff alone and have not been reviewed, endorsed or otherwise endorsed by any third party.