|My first five years in New York, I led a good single life. Working as a technology and business consultant, I earned a nice salary which allowed me to enjoy nice dinners with friends, spend frivolously and not think twice about large purchases.|
I was spoiled by a solid job market within a bullish industry and did not max out my 401k let alone contribute to it nor did I set up a savings account despite the consistent pleading of my parents.
Then a move uptown came when the movers politely drove away with every last item I owned, never to be seen again. It may be hard to comprehend but a robbery was one of the most valuable life lessons I ever received.
Like the pre-bandit me, many singles save little because they have only themselves to worry about when in fact, planning is even more crucial for singles because they must face every financial challenge independently. During my disaster recovery, I learned some money management tips (and other safety tips) that I think every single should consider:
1. Learn to live within your means: Whether it is expensive purses or the latest must have electronic gadget, many singles tend to spend beyond their means. To live with a moderate mindset, learn to make conscious and realistic purchasing decisions. Keep track of spending in a journal and make smart adjustments on a regular basis. Your new found awareness will allow you to differentiate must-have purchases from those which are indulgences, keeping expenses at bay.
2. Set up an emergency fund: No one should ever have to deal with a robbery but face it, bad things happen all the time. Better to be on the safe side by stashing away some cash (at three to six months' income) in a high-yield savings account. Remember these monies are a safety net, so do not spend them on "shoegasms" no matter how good it might feel. The best way to avoid temptation? Leave those credit cards at home!
3. Be on top of bills: Timely payment is important but you must also be sure to review monthly statements from services and credit card providers. These days, you never know who has tapped into your accounts! So look out for cash discrepancies based on your monthly deposits and withdrawals as well as faulty expenses that may be charged to your account.
4. Keep Records Straight: Invest in a file folder and keep a copy of every receipt, warrantee, invoice or financial and medical statement you receive. This way you will be able to return items that have gone faulty, dispute fraud charges and be on top of deductions when it comes time to pay taxes. And though we don?t wish it upon anyone, be able to prove insurance claims should the time come.
5. Max Out on Your 401k: Start investing for retirement! Maximizing use of your employer's retirement plan or starting a simplified employee pension plan (SEP) if you're self-employed is important for singles as a way to save for their future while getting a valuable tax break in the bargain.