Over the past few months, we have all learned that teetering on the edge of the fiscal cliff is not a pleasant place to be. Although the country’s national debt has dominated media attention, many Americans also face the threat of their very own fiscal cliff. The average household carries about $6,600 in credit card debt. However, if you count only the households that use credit cards, the number jumps to $15,799. There is a clear correlation between debt, credit cards, and a growing trend of spending too much and saving too little. So how do you avoid becoming a part of that trend and steer clear of your own fiscal cliff? Here are a few tips.
The best advice I can give you is to plan. Plan for the short term and long term. Retirement may seem eons away, but in reality not saving now can lead to severe challenges later on. According to a 2013 ACCC national poll, less than 5% of consumers plan to focus on saving money for retirement this year. This will be a serious problem for many Americans who are unable to support themselves once they reach retirement. Put money aside each year to avoid having to work well into your later years.
Another important action to plan for the future is to understand the consequences of your financial decisions. For many people, this means taking a good look at your spending habits and making adjustments. Are you on the brink of falling behind on bills? Why is that? You will probably find there is some aspect of your financial behavior you can change. Maybe you are using credit cards for ordinary purchases rather than using money that you have. Realize what it is you’re doing and challenge yourself to change.
Compromise. Recognize wants versus needs. It’s vital that we make decisions based on what we need and prioritize our wants as we can afford them, once our needs have been taken care of.
No matter how much we wish it was the other way around, it’s always easier to reduce spending than increase your income. Take a good look at where your money is going. Getting your finances in order can take a lot of work, but it is certainly worth it to avoid staring into the abyss of your own fiscal cliff.