Financial independence is an important goal for women from all walks of life, but it can often feel out of reach. However, with the right strategies and attitude, anyone can take control of their finances and make progress toward achieving financial freedom.
Take the time to clearly define your financial goals — both short-term and long-term — with the ultimate goal of financial independence. Think about what that would look like for you. Paying off debt? Building an emergency savings fund? Being able to buy a home? Putting your child through college? Saving for retirement? Financial independence may look different for everyone, but by setting goals you'll start to form your roadmap to greater levels of security, stability, and freedom.
Here are some tips to help you get started and some advice from our experts.
Make a Budget
Developing a budget is the first step to becoming financially independent. Track your spending and stick to your budget as much as possible. If you're struggling, creating a budget can be a difficult task. However, it is an essential first step to taking control of your finances.
Prioritize your necessary expenses and make sure those are paid first. When possible, cut back on other discretionary purchases like eating out, entertainment, or shopping in order to save more money each month. Utilize government assistance or programs offered in your community, if you are in need, to make ends meet during difficult times.
Explore Debt Management Options
If you have debt, you're not alone — approximately 80% of Americans are currently in debt. Find your financial freedom by exploring strategies for paying down and managing your debt.
If getting out of debt seems impossible, you may benefit from credit counseling to help you get back on track. If you decide to work with a credit counseling agency, ensure they:
- Are not-for-profit and offer free or affordable in-person counseling.
- Have certified counselors who are trained in consumer credit and debt management.
- Have no complaints filed against them (you can check your local consumer protection agency).
Learn more in Civista’s Debt Management Learning Vault Course.
Look for Ways to Increase Your Income
Explore ways to increase your income, such as starting a side hustle, finding a higher-paying job, or an additional part-time job. Make use of the skills you already have to bring in extra funds. Some ideas include freelance writing, remote work, virtual assistant, pet care, or tutoring.
Consider setting up an automatic transfer from your checking account into your savings account on payday to ensure that you are consistently saving money each month. Try building an emergency savings fund first, about 3-6 months' worth of your expenses, then grow your savings for your other financial goals.
Build and Protect Your Credit
Building your credit score will allow you more opportunities and access to credit when it comes time for big purchases like buying a car or buying a home. Apply for credit in your name. This can be a loan or credit card — anything that gives you the opportunity to show you are a responsible borrower. If your score isn’t quite good enough to get financing on your own, try applying for a secure credit card.
It's also important to protect your credit. Regularly review your credit report and monitor your score. If there are any discrepancies or mistakes, take the necessary steps to fix them and maintain a good credit standing. Learn more about improving your credit score.
Start Investing Early
Start as early as you can when it comes to investing, as compounding interest will have more time to work its magic. Consider setting up retirement accounts such as 401(k)s or IRAs and start automating contributions from your paycheck. Learn more about investing with the Civista Learning Vault's Investor Education series.
Take Advantage of Tax Deductions
Take advantage of deductions such as childcare credits, student loan interest deductions, or any other tax deductions you may qualify for to reduce your taxable income each year. Consult your tax advisor.
Find Financial Education Resources
Knowledge is power, and learning to be financially responsible is key to achieving financial independence. Look for books, courses, workshops, and other resources that can help teach you about money management and investing.
Civista's Learning Vault is the perfect place to start. We have free, easy-to-follow, online courses to help you with all areas of your financial life.
Seek out professional advice when needed
While it is important to educate yourself on financial matters, there are certain topics where seeking the opinion of a financial professional financial is recommended. This can help provide peace of mind when tackling more complex areas like retirement planning or tax strategies. Working with a financial advisor can be an invaluable asset in helping you achieve your goals.
Talk with your local Civista banker if you have any financial questions. We have a whole team of specialized experts ready to help you.
By following these tips, women everywhere can take control of their finances and build a solid foundation toward achieving financial independence. With the right knowledge, resources, and dedication women can create the secure financial future they desire.