By CAROLYN MCLEMORE, CRPC®, and KURT VANDE STREEK
7 habits that will improve your financial health
Be honest — how well are you sticking to your New Year’s resolutions? That’s okay, you are not alone. New Year’s resolutions almost always fail because we do not create the required space to foster their success, or stick with them long enough to ensure a habit is formed.
Earlier this decade, Charles Duhigg released his profound book on routines, titled “The Power of Habit.” His research reveals that habits emerge because our brain constantly looks for ways to save effort and, if left unchecked, will try to make almost any routine into a habit. Duhigg ultimately concludes the same thing Will Durant did in “The Story of Philosophy,” which is that we are what we repeatedly do.
You may be thinking, “So what? How does this apply to me and money?” Here’s how: Your lifestyle routines — both conscious and subconscious — have a significant impact on your overall financial health.
Let me explain. I (Kurt) really enjoy coffee. And let’s imagine that each day I stopped at the local Starbucks or Cups and purchased my favorite $5 drink. Chalk it up as a guilty pleasure, right? Perhaps, but let’s consider the real cost. Let’s imagine instead that I invested that $5 per day over the course of 35 years and earned an annualized return of 10 percent on it. Any guess what the value would be? Drumroll … $585,817! I won’t speak for you, but that would be meaningful savings for me and my family.
Are we recommending you give up coffee? No! However, we do suggest you consider the real cost of your lifestyle routines and develop those that foster healthy financial habits. Here are seven healthy financial habits to consider:
◼︎ Create and track a budget monthly
◼︎ Start funding your emergency savings
◼︎ Develop a plan to eliminate your debt
◼︎ Automate your retirement savings
◼︎ Review your insurance needs annually
◼︎ Establish a comprehensive estate plan
◼︎ Talk with your family about money matters regularly
Let’s look at the first habit together. Do you know what we discovered after reviewing our recurring monthly expenses? We realized we spent money on things we didn’t even use! Take streaming services, for example. They are wonderful, but who really needs YouTube TV, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, ESPN+, Apple TV+, Disney+ and Netflix?
Are we hitting on a controversial topic in your family? No need to start World War III over it. Simply create a safe environment to begin working together to find sensible budget-friendly solutions. There are several easy budgeting calculators and resources available online to get you pointed in the right direction — Bankrate.com comes to mind, for example.
Before implementing the suggestions above or any others that may come to mind, consider seeking counsel from an experienced financial professional. Our team at Trustmark Financial Services would be glad to come alongside you in this endeavor and can be reached at 769-209-4684.
Carolyn McLemore is a financial consultant and first vice president with Trustmark Financial Services. She and her husband, Gary, live in Brandon and are active members of First Baptist Church of Fannin.
Kurt Vande Streek is a financial consultant with Trustmark Financial Services. He and his wife, Mary Ellen, live in Jackson with their two children and are active members of Redeemer Church, PCA.