What’s the biggest difference between being dependent on someone else and being on your own? For many women it’s taking financial responsibility for themselves and perhaps for dependents as well.
Being financially responsible usually means earning enough money to support yourself. That may be something you experience for the first time as a young woman ready to move into a home of your own. But financial independence isn’t as much an age issue as you may think.
If you’re widowed in your 40s or 60s, divorced or separated in your 30s or 50s, you may also be just starting out on your journey to personal financial security.
Whether you’re living on your own for the first time, have just gotten married, or made some other change, you may be facing the challenge of making your money stretch far enough to cover your needs.
As a general rule, separating your needs and wants is one of the best ways to create a workable budget. But don’t think of a budget as a rigid spending plan. Its real value is serving as a guideline for managing your money.
As you take responsibility for managing your own finances, you’re likely to have a number of questions about the decisions you have to make:
- How do I pick a bank?
- Are all credit cards the same?
- Why is it important to have a good credit history?
- Should I take up student loans?
Two basic resources for successful money management are choosing the right financial institution to handle your money, and establishing a good credit rating through the careful use of credit cards.
Finding the bank that’s right for you means comparing the fees and rates various banks charge for different accounts. You may want to open just a checking account, but maintaining a savings account as well can be a good way to establish an emergency fund to fall back on.
Getting a good credit card can be a good way to build your credit record. You’ll have many choices when you decide to get your first card, but the main things to think about when choosing a card are you buying habits, your tendency to keep a balance, and your desired credit limit.
Going back to school, either to college or graduate school, is a common goal. You may realize once you start working that more training or another degree could lead to better job opportunities.
More education can be beneficial in many ways but it can take a toll on your wallet. Many scholarships, financial aid programs, and student loan options exist for people who want to further their education, but need some financial help.
If your classes pertain directly to your job, you might also check to see if your employer will reimburse you for your tuition. Sometimes an employer will include this opportunity in an employee benefits package.
Overall, feeling confident about money matters, and understanding essential financial topics, can help you plan effectively for your present and future financial security. The best thing you can do is education yourself on the issues, always ask questions, and be in continual pursuit of something better!
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