It can be tempting to look at friends, neighbors, coworkers, and even online influencers to judge whether we are doing a good job with money.
But the status of others can be a deceiving (and sometimes demoralizing) yardstick to measure yourself by.
Instead of comparing your savings or income to another person’s, try using objective measures to see whether you’re on track to financial success.
Here are a few ways to check to see if you’re on your way to building wealth and on your way to a prosperous and secure future.
If you’re over 50, take advantage of massive discounts and financial resources
Over 50? Join AARP today — because if you’re not a member you could be missing out on huge perks. When you start your membership today, you can get discounts on things like travel, meal deliveries, eyeglasses, prescriptions that aren’t covered by insurance and more.
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You have an emergency fund
Perhaps the classic sign of wealth is money sitting in a bank unused. But yours has a purpose — keeping your stress low in case of a car crash, medical need, job loss, or home repair.
You get bonus points if you’re earning interest from a high-yield savings account on your stash of cash.
You use a budget
If your budget is a living document you consult monthly, you’re on your way to financial success. You know that “budget” isn’t a dirty word. It’s your ticket to mindfully spending on the things you care about.
You have a high credit score
When you pay bills on time and in full and don’t overextend yourself with credit, your credit score is likely to be high. Those with high credit scores enjoy lower interest rates and better terms when they need a loan, creating a positive feedback loop of financial wellness.
Resolve $10,000 or more of your debt
Credit card debt is suffocating. It constantly weighs on your mind and controls every choice you make. You can end up emotionally and even physically drained from it. And even though you make regular payments, it feels like you can never make any progress because of the interest.
National Debt Relief could help you resolve your credit card debt with an affordable plan that works for you. Just tell them your situation, then find out your debt relief options.
How to get National Debt Relief to help you resolve your debt: Sign up for a free debt assessment here. (Do not skip this step!) By signing up for a free assessment, National Debt Relief can assist you in settling your debt, but only if you schedule the assessment.
You’re advancing in your career
Whether you’re a janitor, a project manager, or a teacher, gaining more knowledge, skills, and experience in your chosen field could put you on the fast track to financial wellness.
If you’re the hardest-working, most knowledgeable employee, you put yourself at the top of the list for promotions and the bottom of the list for layoffs.
You don’t carry a credit card balance
The financially successful often use credit cards, but they know that carrying a balance from month to month is needless spending on interest that can become a huge drag on their budgets.
If you pay off your balance each month or take advantage of the best credit cards with 0% APR, you’re on your way to prosperity.
Your net worth is positive
This number is the difference between the assets you own (cash, retirement accounts, your house, etc.) and the liabilities you owe (credit cards, mortgage, medical debt, student loans, etc.).
If your net worth is above $0, that’s a step in the right direction. If you’re making progress on growing it, even better.
You’re contributing to a retirement account
Financially savvy folks realize that they can’t work forever, and they prepare for their golden years by putting money away regularly into a 401k, Roth IRA, or another type of retirement vehicle. These little contributions add up and help fund their retirements.
Your house or car is paid off
These are huge financial milestones to be proud of and two of the biggest line items in most Americans’ budgets.
If you’ve attained either one, you’ve decreased the amount you spend on housing and transportation. This will free up more of your income to invest or spend as you like.
You spend less than you earn
This is the simple key to wealth, though it can be challenging to live by. Your savings and investments can grow when you consistently put away money each month by living within your means. In time, wealth is built in the space between what you earn and what you spend.
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You have adequate insurance
Protecting your valuable assets, such as your home, auto, and health, is vital to financial security, as you don’t want to lose what you’ve worked so hard to gain.
The economically educated have appropriate insurance to protect against or alleviate the effects of disasters like illness, natural disasters, and auto accidents. They also know not to over-insure, opting to handle minor emergencies themselves.
You’re able to give to charity
When you have enough money to take care of yourself and help others, that’s a sign of true wealth. You see money as a tool to be used for good and advancement — both yours and that of others.
You pay your bills on time
An optimized system — whether that’s an app, software, or a spreadsheet — that keeps track of your monthly bills and ensures they are paid on time and in full is a hallmark of someone who has their financial act together.
There are many different ways to run your household’s finances, and you’ve found the way that works best for you.
You have multiple income streams
People who are wise with their finances know to diversify their investments and income streams. They know any one way of earning money could dry up anytime with a layoff.
As such, they don’t earn all their eggs from one basket, opting for side hustles, investments, and other income streams to make extra money.
You have S.M.A.R.T. financial goals
Smart goals are more than just wishes — they are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. If you’ve created goals like these and refer to them regularly, you are on your way to financial success.
People ask you for financial advice
If others recognize that you know what you're doing when it comes to topics like investing, retirement, and budgeting, that’s a sign you’re doing something right.
When friends and family come to you for advice or knowledge on these topics, you can rest assured that you’re more financially educated than most.
Your bank account is increasing, but your lifestyle isn’t
Lifestyle creep is the tendency to increase your spending when your income rises, and it can happen to the best of us. If you can resist the pull of lifestyle creep when you get a raise or a promotion, you have the discipline it takes to build real wealth.
While these aren’t the signs of financial fitness, they’re some of the most obvious. Others include a healthy money mindset, not letting money dictate your relationships, and not feeling the need to keep up with the Joneses, but these are much harder to measure.
Most wealth isn’t generated overnight, so you may need patience before seeing results from your smart money moves.
But just as compound interest works its magic over time, your consistent efforts to save, invest, and increase your income will accumulate.